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Shakedown: Tänak on the attack!

There are only two World Champions entered in this 92nd Rally Monte-Carlo, Ott Tänak (Hyundai) and Sébastien Ogier (Toyota). And it was the Estonian, crowned in 2019, before Covid, who set the fastest time in the shakedown on Wednesday afternoon in the hills above Gap. In his very first timed run of the 2024 season, he clocked a time of 2:00.4 over 3.28km of a small, dry road, but which quickly became smeared with dirt, with most of the competitors generously taking the apex in the fastest corners. Three years have passed since the 2021 edition, run behind closed doors and with masks because of Covid-19, when Monte-Carlo competitors last took advantage of this shakedown to fine-tune their rally cars.

On his first run, Tänak did barely better than Elfyn Evans (Toyota) over the 3km shakedown. It was just by one tenth of a second, the weather was good and daylight was only beginning to fade. Behind Tänak and the 2:00.5 clocked by the Welshman, 2nd at the end of last season, 3rd place in this shakedown went to another Hyundai driver, Thierry Neuville (2:01.2), two tenths quicker than Ogier (2:01.4). And for the places of honour in this full-scale set-up session, the third Toyota driver, Takamoto Katsuta, was ahead of the third Hyundai driver, Andreas Mikkelsen, back in the top class after several seasons in WRC2.

Ogier, the eight-time world champion, is in search of a 10th win on Sunday in the Principality, while Tänak has never managed to succeed in this very special rally. On Thursday evening, serious business will begin, with two special stages (SS1, SS2) starting at 20h00 in the Alpes de Haute-Provence and Hautes-Alpes departments. This will happen after the ritual and very official start, on Casino Square in Monte-Carlo. You will be able to follow it live from 4:45 pm, local time, on the Facebook and YouTube pages of Automobile Club de Monaco.

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