There is a new leader in this 92nd Monte-Carlo Rally: Sébastien Ogier (Toyota), thanks to his fastest time on SS13 (20.04km) this afternoon between Les Nonières (Drôme) and Chichilianne (Isère), has moved ahead of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) by just eight-tenths of a second. There is just one more special stage to negotiate (SS14) before the end of this 3rd long day of rallying (120km of timed stages).
“We need to keep attacking. It’s very close, which is good. We love to fight and that’s good for the fans too. There is no time to back off now, we just need to keep pushing,” Ogier said at the end of SS13, delighted to have made up, in four stages, the time he lost early this morning on SS9.
Ogier, the luxury freelancer, is performing much better this Saturday than Elfyn Evans, the full-time Toyota driver: “I’m really struggling in the sections where there’s little grip, especially in terms of confidence. The others are clearly going faster than me this afternoon”, summed up the Welsh vice-world champion, lucid about the level of his performance.
As for Neuville, Ogier’s last rival for overall victory on the Col de Turini on Sunday, he hasn’t given up yet, far from it, even though he has just suffered two consecutive setbacks in his duel at the summit with the eight-time world champion. Like Evans, he is aiming for the world title this year. And this weekend, he began to get the better of his team-mate Ott Tänak, on the back foot since Friday morning.
In WRC2, the battle is as intense as ever. After SS12, Spain’s Pepe Lopez (Skoda Fabia RS) is once again leading the category, ahead of Russia’s Nikolay Gryazin (Citroën C3) and Frenchman Yohan Rossel (Citroën C3), the 2021 WRC3 champion. The three drivers are within 11.6 seconds of each other. Game on!