Evans rebounds from puncture to win SS6

He's now 54.2 seconds off the lead


Elfyn Evans has broken Sébastien Ogier’s stranglehold on the Monte Carlo Rally, becoming the first driver to beat Ogier to a stage win in the 2023 World Rally Championship season.

Evans had been his Toyota team-mate’s closest challenger on Thursday evening and most of Friday morning, but a rear-right puncture on the final stage of the morning cost him over 40 seconds and dumped him from second to fifth place.

But the five-time WRC winner has responded in perfect fashion with a scratch time on SS6 that opened the afternoon loop.

In the process, he closed to within 10.1s of Ott Tänak’s fifth place.

Despite losing out on a stage win by a mere 0.5s, Ogier actually extended his rally lead to 36s given it wasn’t the second placed driver that beat him.

Ogier had lost hybrid before the remote tire fitting zone, but the system was back working for SS6.


“So far it’s working,” he said. “The guy from Compact Dynamics managed to fix it with his laptop. We aren’t sure it will work the whole afternoon but it worked in this one.”

It was a positive stage all round for Toyota as its new world champion Kalle Rovanperä did enough to depose Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville of second place.

Rovanperä was 2.2s faster than Neuville on the stage to move ahead by a scant 0.4s. He’s set himself an afternoon target of improving his speed relative to the morning.

Despite the disappointment of losing the place, Neuville admitted he was “not surprised” by the outcome.

His team-mate Dani Sordo continues to occupy a position of no man’s land on the leaderboard – 17.9s adrift of fifth placed Evans but 15s ahead of Takamoto Katsuta.


Trailing the other Hyundai of Esapekka Lappi by half a second before the stage, Katsuta nosed his Toyota ahead by 10.9s after the stage to move into seventh place.

Lappi’s pace was particularly poor, 6.7s adrift of Sordo who himself was confused why he was so slow.

“There is some reason for that now,” Lappi said, but refused to elaborate further.

Pierre-Louis Loubet remains in the race but has continued to struggle for pace with snow tires fitted to his M-Sport which is bereft of power-steering.

Loubet dropped another two minutes but importantly got himself to the end of the stage to stay in the rally.

“Difficult but we managed to finish the stage and to not give up, so for that it’s good,” said Loubet. “The car is easier to drive on the snow tires but I can tell you it’s not easy.”

Words:Luke Barry