Sébastien Loeb took a short break in his current domination of the 90th Monte-Carlo Rally: after four best times in the first four stages of the day, he found himself deprived of additional electric power in his Ford Puma Hybrid. So that his young teammate Gus Greensmith (25) took the opportunity to open his record in the WRC, posting the first best time of his career.
“I’m going to text him so that he leaves this one to me”, Greensmith joked when Loeb was already well underway in this SS7, the second run of the day between Guillaumes and Valberg, heading up to the ski resort on a wide and fast road. Then the Frenchman fell “out of hybrid”, which had happened a little earlier to Greensmith and denied the Ford of a hundred horsepower.
On such a fast, uphill special, it was a slight handicap, but that did not prevent Loeb from maintaining control of the general standings, 14.4 seconds ahead of Sébastien Ogier (Toyota), now again 2nd, and 15.2 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans, the vice-world champion in the other official Yaris aiming for a podium position on Sunday.
Thanks to this nice performance, Greensmith, still 7th, got even closer (less than a second) to Ott Tänak, the 2019 world champion, and he also has in sight Thierry Neuville, 4th, and Craig Breen 5th, just ahead of Tänak. The last stage of the day is scheduled between Val-de-Chalvagne and Entrevaux (SS8), over 17 km dominated Friday morning by Loeb. This 90th Rallye Monte-Carlo keeps all its promises, and we are not yet halfway there…