Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Motorsport) won his first stage of the 91st Rally Monte-Carlo, and of the 2023 WRC season, during the second pass between Le Fugeret and Thorame-Haute (SS12, 16.8 km). The first stage win not scored by a Toyota Gazoo Racing driver since the start on Thursday evening.
“I’m happy, I had a good pace,” said the Belgian on the finish line at the bottom of Colle Saint-Michel. This was his 323rd stage win in WRC (143 starts, 55 podiums, 17 wins). A great performance against dominating Toyota Yaris and a great reward for his now legendary ability to resist, his patience and his undisputable talent behind the wheel.
After this SS12, Neuville is still 3rd overall, 39 seconds behind Sébastien Ogier and only 9.5 seconds behind Kalle Rovanperä, and still holds a good margin (19.5 seconds) over Elfyn Evans, Toyota’s third top driver. Enough to consider the rest of the operations with serenity, especially if a puncture, always possible with increasingly worn out Soft and Super Soft Pirelli tires, disrupts the general classification, at one time or another.
In WRC2, the situation is stable, as Russian Nikolay Gryazin (Skoda Fabia) is still in control against his two main French rivals, Yohan Rossel and Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën C3). They will also have to be wary of the stones and all those traps making up the timeless charm of Rally Monte-Carlo, sometimes causing twists and turns.