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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Neuville wins epic head-to-head with Ogier on 2024 opener

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The Hyundai driver gained eight of the 17 asphalt phases in one of many driest Monte Carlo rallies on file to assert his second win on the well-known occasion, by a margin of 16.1 seconds over nine-time victor Ogier.

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans accomplished the rostrum in third (+45.2s), whereas Hyundai’s Ott Tanak (+1m59.8s) and M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux (+3m36.9s) crammed the highest 5 positions.

Along with Neuville’s outright rally victory, the Belgian claimed the utmost 30 factors. He scooped the 18 factors on provide for leading the rally on Saturday night and was quickest on Sunday to bag an additional seven factors beneath the new-for-2024 scoring system.

Neuville put the icing on the cake by claiming the 5 bonus Energy Stage factors and leads the championship by six factors from Ogier with Evans third on 21 factors.

The brand new guidelines imply the highest seven throughout Sunday’s leg are awarded factors, which had been claimed by Neuville (7), Evans (6), Ogier (5), Tanak (4), Fourmaux (3), Takamoto Katsuta (2) and Gregoire Munster (1).

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Barely hampered by an engine concern on his lighter and upgraded i20 N, Neuville kicked off the rally by ending Thursday night time’s opening phases in second, 15.1s behind an impressive, fast-starting Evans.

He was fortunate to flee a quick brush with a snowbank after sliding on a sheet of ice in stage three that caught out a number of drivers. Neuville additionally rode his luck when he suffered a spin on the next stage however, had he averted the error that price him 10s, he would have shot into the rally lead.

After ending Friday sitting third, 16.1s behind Evans, who had a 4.5s benefit over Ogier, Neuville hit the lead on Saturday morning in fashion.

Photograph by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The 2020 Monte Carlo winner ignited his victory bid on a frosty stage 9 the place he took 9.6s out of chief Evans and was 18.8s sooner than Ogier.

That blistering effort was adopted up by a collection of robust occasions leading to Neuville taking the rally lead after stage 10.

Evans’ problem started to fall away with the Welshman unable to match the tempo of Neuville and Ogier as an epic head-to-head developed. Evans wasn’t helped by a hybrid concern on his GR Yaris in stage 10.

Within the afternoon, Ogier mounted an impressed cost that included his 700th profession stage win. The Frenchman started to reel in Neuville earlier than taking the rally lead by 0.8s after successful stage 13.

Nevertheless, Neuville summoned what he described because the “good stage” to beat Ogier by 4.1s in stage 14 to finish Saturday with a 3.3s benefit.

The beautiful velocity continued into Sunday as Neuville dashed Ogier’s hopes of a tenth Monte Carlo win by topping the two morning stages, which resulted in his rival conceding defeat.

Neuville sealed the victory by successful the Energy Stage by 2.6s from Ogier.

Tanak’s first occasion again with Hyundai, following a 2023 marketing campaign with M-Sport, proved to be difficult. An engine concern plagued all three Hyundais on Thursday night time and, whereas it was resolved on two vehicles, it plagued Tanak’s i20 N in the course of the rally.

But it surely was a mistake on stage three that successfully ended his victory hopes. Tanak was caught out by the identical ice sheet as Neuville however, not like his team-mate, he discovered a ditch, which required spectators to push him again onto the street, costing the Estonian 41.9s.

M-Sport Ford’s younger driver line-up of Fourmaux and Munster impressed and had been sitting fifth and sixth till Saturday afternoon when Munster – who additionally misplaced time to an incident on the stage three ice – discovered himself beached within the stage 12 boundaries.

Whereas Fourmaux produced a managed efficiency to complete fifth, Munster benefitted from the brand new scoring system by choosing up a degree on Sunday.

New Hyundai signing Andreas Mikkelsen endured a difficult Rally1 debut adjusting to his i20 N. The reigning WRC2 champion survived a wild second on stage 9 to in the end end sixth general (+5m34.6s).

Toyota’s Katsuta completed seventh (+8m28.5s) and confirmed flashes of velocity throughout Saturday as he recovered from dropping 5 minutes after operating into the identical ditch as Tanak and Munster on stage three.

In WRC2, Citroen driver Yohan Rossel snatched the victory by 4.9s from Pepe Lopez within the ultimate stage with Nikolay Gryazin in third. The trio had been locked in a battle that featured the lead change seven occasions.

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