Four Toyota drivers in the first four spots, but end of series for Sébastien Ogier. The second passage between Roure and Beuil, via Roubion (SS6, 18.33km), allowed Elfyn Evans to put his name on the honor roll of this 91st Rally Monte-Carlo, after five consecutive stage wins for the Frenchman since Thursday evening. Probably because of a breakdown of his hybrid system aboard the Yaris carrying number 17, which deprived him of crucial power for dry and fast roads.
“Honestly, I took a lot of risks to compensate,” Ogier said during the mid-day pause in Puget-Théniers. Crews were only allowed to change tires, but no help by mechanics was allowed. With a 30-second lead, Ogier could plan to manage a bit, as he had to wait for the evening service to have his electric power unit fixed.
This SS6 had another benefit for Toyota Gazoo Racing: it allowed Kalle Rovanperä, the young reigning World Champion, to take 2nd place away from Thierry Neuville, the Belgian leader of Hyundai Motorsport. “It’s starting to get better,” said Rovanperä at the break. After starting this opening round of WRC 2023 in cautious mode, he is now starting to find his rhythm. In SS6, he finished two seconds behind Evans and half a second only behind Ogier.
After SS6, there is only a four-tenths difference between Rovanperä (2nd) and Neuville (3rd), both 36 seconds behind Ogier. Slightly further back, Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford), 4th at 44 seconds, and Elfyn Evans (Toyota), 5th at 54 seconds, are still battling for honours. In WRC2, Russian Nikolay Gryazin (Skoda Fabia) continues to resist against two Frenchmen driving Citroën C3s, Yohan Rossel and Stéphane Lefebvre.