Neuville ends Toyota’s stage victory run

He beat Elfyn Evans by 1.1 seconds on SS12


Thierry Neuville has given Hyundai its first stage win of the 2023 World Rally Championship season, but team-mate Esapekka Lappi picked up a puncture.

Toyota had won all 11 stages of the Monte Carlo Rally prior to Saturday afternoon, with Sébastien Ogier claiming the lion’s share of those as the leader of the rally.

But the second pass of Le Fugeret / Thorame-Haute belonged to Hyundai and Neuville as he won the stage by 1.1 seconds over Elfyn Evans.

That was despite Neuville struggling: “It was OK. We had a good rhythm to be honest but in the fast corners I have no lateral [grip], I’m just sliding,” he said.

“That’s where we lose the time but in the narrow we are quite fine.”


The stage win did gnaw 2.9s out of Neuville’s deficit to second placed Kalle Rovanperä, but Rovanperä remains 9.5s ahead. He had looked quicker than Neuville before losing time as the stage progressed.

He explained: “I had a small slide in one place, couldn’t really trust the notes in the middle section.”

Ogier’s rally lead stands at 29.5s.

Ott Tänak’s intermittent power-steering issue has continued to pose him an issue he must overcome, and he did his best describe what he was dealing with.

“It depends a bit on the speed, and it seems to be temperature related,” he said. “When it’s twisty, in the last 5km it’s hard but in the straight it’s OK.”

Tänak’s 16.5s behind Evans in fifth, but 46.9s ahead of Takamoto Katsuta.

WRC 2023

Lappi’s flat rear-right tire meant he’s fallen back to 26.7s behind team-mate Dani Sordo now, and he’s unsure where he collected the puncture.

“For sure there is some sharp rocks on the cuts, must be there,” Lappi said. “Otherwise, no idea.”

Sordo was in the wars too though as the hybrid system his Hyundai developed in the morning has persisted into the afternoon – but not entirely.

“It’s very weird,” Sordo said. “Sometimes it’s working, sometimes it’s not working. They tell me not to drive with it but in here it’s working… anyway, we need to make the end of the day.”