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SS8: Toyota remains in front, Ogier in control

Day 2 of the 91st Rally Monte-Carlo was dominated from start to finish by Toyota Gazoo Racing, on Friday in the Southern Alps, and ended with a stage win for the reigning World Champion, young Finnish star Kalle Rovanperä, in SS8 (Briançonnet- Entrevaux, 14.55km). His first stage win of the year, after the first one also for Elfyn Evans in SS6 at the start of the afternoon. Since the start on Thursday evening, the Japanese team has left nothing to its rivals, Hyundai Motorsport and M-Sport Ford.

“I didn’t push too hard, I just tried to do a clean stage. My car seemed more efficient than this morning”, said Rovanperä, the youngest World Champion in the history of WRC, at the end of SS8, where Sébastien Loeb had won in 2022 ahead of Ogier, just one year ago. He then set off for Monaco with a 36-second debit over his French team-mate, and ten more stages to negotiate on Saturday and Sunday morning.

“I’m very happy, obviously the risk of punctures was higher in this stage, so I took it easy. I am just happy to be able to bring the car back to the service park,” Ogier said a few minutes later. He had punctured a tire in this stage last year, in the heat of a final battle with Loeb, and offered an historic win to his greatest rival.

Saturday morning, when all drivers leave Monaco for the six stages of Day 3, Ogier will also be 37.9 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), 3rd, 54.2 seconds ahead of Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford), 4th, and 1:02.3 minute ahead of Elfyn Evans (Toyota), who suffered a very costly puncture in the morning. This makes it three Toyota drivers in the Top 5, with over 175 timed kilometers to race. Place your bets!

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