Rally Monte Carlo WRC: Neuville retakes lead from Evans

Rob Hansford
Neuville retakes Monte Carlo lead

Thierry Neuville has taken the lead of the Monte Carlo Rally after the Hyundai World Rally Championship driver won both of Sunday morning's stages to move ahead of Elfyn Evans.

Neuville continued his strong form to dominate the morning loop, winning the opening SS13 stage.

That stage win meant he closed the gap to leader Evans down to 1.4 seconds, and overhauled the sister Toyota of Sebastien Ogier for second place in the process.

In the following La Cabanette - Col De Braus test the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC driver went 5.4s faster than Evans to take the lead with a four second gap to the 2017 WRC Wales Rally GB winner.

Ogier had a tough morning, losing 6.2s to Neuville in the La Bollene Vesubie - Peira Cava run, and he lost a further 6.5s to the Hyundai in the next stage, meaning he is now in third, 6.1s off the lead.

The seven-time WRC Monte Carlo Rally winner admitted that the 13.36km La Cabanette- Col De Braus test wasn't a "great stage for him and that he wasn't "perfectly comfortable".

Hyundai driver Sebastien Loeb was lucky to remain in the rally after locking up at a hairpin in the middle of SS14.

Neuville retakes Monte Carlo lead

The nine-time WRC champion went off the road, leaving his Hyundai teetering on the edge of a drop, but he was pushed back onto the road by spectators and was able to continue to the end of the stage.

That incident cost Loeb over 20 seconds and he has dropped behind M-Sport driver Esapekka Lappi to fifth and is 16.7s behind going into the final two stages of the rally.

Kalle Rovanpera is in a lonely sixth place in his Toyota Yaris, and he took the opportunity to test different tyre combinations, but he admitted that the end of SS14 was "really tricky" with slippery conditions as he opted for three softs and one super-soft tyre.

Takamoto Katsuta is in seventh place and a further seven minutes behind the 2019 WRC2 champion, while Eric Camilli is still leading the WRC3 class in his Citroen C3 and is eighth overall.

M-Sport driver Temmu Suninen had a strong morning and has moved up to the top ten, ending the morning loop in ninth place.

Mads Ostberg is the leading WRC2 driver and rounds out the top ten in his Citroen C3, 29.9s ahead of WRC3 competitor Nicolas Ciamin, who has dropped down to 11th.

Leading positions after SS14

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2h49m53.5s
2 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 4.0s
3 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 11.2s
4 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m56.5s
5 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 3m13.2s
6 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 3m55.9s
7 Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 10m59.0s
8 Eric Camilli, F-X.Buresi Eric Camilli Citroen 12m30.9s
9 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 13m13.0s
10 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen PH Sport Citroen 13m15.1s

Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus