The opening round of the 2023 World Rally Championship saw Sebastien Ogier topping the time-sheets after completing the opening two stages of the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Ogier leads his team-mate Elfyn Evans by 6s with Ford’s new signing, Ott Tänak, 15.4s down the road.
Round one of season got underway with two stages on Thursday night with SS1 giving the drivers their first taste of the Col de Turini.
Ogier continued his form from the earlier shakedown by setting the initial pace and heading Evans by 1.3s. Thierry Neuville was Hyundai’s best driver in the first test after finishing 6s behind Evans to place third.
SS1 didn’t give drivers too many dramas unless your name is Tänak, the Estonian experienced some electrical issues on his Ford Puma Rally1 and couldn’t select fifth gear. He had to battle this problem as the crews headed to SS2.
The second stage, whilst looking clear, was characterised by black ice that caught out a few drivers. Thierry Neuville was one of those, he slid on a patch on a tight left-hander and went wide. Neuville subsequently stalled his car which cost him precious seconds.
Takamoto Katsuta’s Toyota developed an issue with his handbrake as a message on his dash showed an error that meant that he had no use of it particularly through the hairpins.
2022 Drivers’ Champion, Kalle Rovanperä took it easy in the opening tests to sit fifth behind Neuville. Dani Sordo made the top six but was 32.1s behind at the end of the day.
Results after Day 1
- Ogier – 26min 33.7s
- Evans – +6.0s
- Tänak – +15.4s
- Neuville – +15.5s
- Rovanperä – +17.1s
- Sordo – +32.1s