It was the first major turning point of the 92nd Monte-Carlo Rally: on SS10 this morning, between Les Nonières (Drôme) and Chichilianne (Isère), a rather quick 20.04km stage, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) took the overall lead by just nine-tenths of a second from Elfyn Evans (Toyota), the leader since the start on Thursday evening.
The fastest time on SS10 was indeed set by Sébastien Ogier, a fine reaction from the Toyota driver after his disappointment on SS9, but it was Neuville who did the trick, on a road that was dry on the uphill section and damper going downhill.
The Belgian winner of the 2020 edition is very calm and efficient this week: “After the tunnel, on the descent, the grip was better than expected. Maybe I was too careful with my braking zones. It was a good morning for us,” said Neuville at the end of this stage, not used in WRC since 1997 (fastest time by Armin Schwarz in a Ford Escort).
Ogier set the fastest time, his fourth of the week, despite a small incident on the stage when a stone hit his windscreen, creating a small impact. “It’s good, especially after losing so much time on the previous stage. The only thing we can do is look ahead and keep attacking,” said last year’s winner.
“We have a small issue “, said Evans at the end, without saying anything more. The surprise of this stage came from his Japanese team-mate Takamoto Katsuta, who set the 3rdfastest time as first on the road, with two super-soft tyres mounted in front. It was a bold choice, but one that paid off in the end. His aim today is to get back into the Top 10 after crashing out yesterday in SS3.