Ogier extends early Monte lead by again beating Loeb

Toyota added 1.3s to lead on SS2, with gaps between the leading cars smaller than on Thursday's rally-opening test


Sébastien Ogier leads the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally overnight from Sébastien Loeb after claiming a clean sweep of Thursday stages on the first World Rally Championship event of the hybrid era.

Despite being five miles longer than the opening stage of the rally, and the season, the frontrunning crews were slightly more closely matched on La Bollène-Vésubie/Moulinet, which passed over the famous Col de Turini.

Ogier was again quickest but Toyota stablemate Elfyn Evans was much closer, going just 1.9s slower to end the day 11.2s down in the overall classification.

“It felt a little bit better in there, it’s hard to know at the moment where we are,” confessed the rally leader.

“We keep trying things with the car but I’m happy to be through this night, it’s always a challenge.”

Loeb got the better of Evans by 0.6s on SS2 and remained Ogier’s closest challenger, setting up a battle of the two WRC legends on Friday’s leg of stages.

“We enjoyed it,” said Loeb, who trailed Ogier by 6.7s after SS2.

“It was very hard for the tire this one so I overheated my tire before the middle of the stage then I struggled a bit to keep the car in a good position, but OK.

“This one I did well.”

Evans admitted to struggling with the hybrid unit that was providing in excess of 100bhp at points during the stage.

“The hybrid is pushing on pretty hard and it took a long time to get used to it, and it’s so, so different to before,” he said.

His marginal time loss to Loeb put the Toyota driver 4.5s off second place.


Adrien Fourmaux ended Thursday an impressive fourth overall in his Ford Puma Rally1, setting the fourth-fastest time – just 2.3s shy of Evans’ effort.

It moved him ahead of team-mate Gus Greensmith in the overall classification by four seconds.

“I was enjoying it so much, the car was just so amazing,” said a buoyant Fourmaux.

“Honestly it’s just so nice to drive and downhill with the [hybrid] power is something special, it was really, really nice to drive. I’m happy to have done this good night and tomorrow we have the confidence now so it’s good.”


Thierry Neuville was sixth on the stage and overall but was not happy with his new Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

“In general I had no trust,” he said, “no trust in the car, so I had to keep it neat and tidy.”

Craig Breen was seventh overall but declared himself “relatively happy”, admitting to struggling on SS2 more than he expected to having not driven that stretch of road for four years.

Ott Tänak, who opted not to speak to the stage-end reporter after the first opener, lifted the lid on his Thursday evening struggles, claiming he had “a big list” of problems.


The Hyundai driver was eighth fastest on SS2 to sit in the same position overall.

“Since the start we have an engine issue, I can’t really get everything working and on this one we lost some hydraulics as well like the handbrake,” he said.

Takamoto Katsuta was 7.1s behind the i20 N Rally1 in his Toyota Gazoo New Generation Team car, and said his SS1 car problems had not quite gone but he drove “smooth without any drama and moments”.


More than 10 seconds further back was Oliver Solberg, who had a fraught run on SS2 – spinning his i20 N Rally1 halfway through the stage as his difficulties hearing co-driver Elliott Edmondson continued.

It was not a good evening for either of the WRC’s two young stars, as Kalle Rovanperä suffered a disastrous start to the Monte Carlo Rally – ending the day more than one minute adrift of his rally-leading team-mate Ogier and 10s away from the top 10.

A significant 42.8s of his overall deficit was lost on SS2 as Rovanperä admitted to struggling with his GR Yaris Rally1, saying it was not handling all that sweetly.

Asked what he was struggling with, Rovanperä said: “Overall the balance of the car is really tricky for me to drive.

“I tried to do my best to adapt to it but I knew already before the rally that if the balance was a bit more towards the understeering side it’s always a struggle for me.”

Eric Camilli set a blazing pace through both SS1 and SS2 to grab the overnight lead in the WRC2 class, and was 9.1s clear of reigning champion Andreas Mikkelsen.

The two were in a league of their own as third-placed driver, Stéphane Lefebvre, was 15.4s further back in his Citroën C3 Rally2.

Toksport drivers Nikolay Gryazin and Chris Ingram were among those to hit trouble early on as Ingram’s Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo was stuck in third gear on the opening stage, and he incurred 1m40s in penalties trying to make a fix.

Gryazin, who was quicker than Mikkelsen on the opener, lost close to three minutes on the second of the two stages when he was forced to stop, arriving at the stage-end control with his rear-left brakes on fire.

SS2 times

1 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota) 15m14.4s
2 Sébastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) +1.3s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1.9s
4 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +4.2s
5 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +9.6s
6 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +12.6s

Leading positions after SS2

1 Ogier/Veillas (Toyota) 25m48.4s
2 Loeb/Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) +6.7s
3 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +11.2s
4 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +17.9s
5 Greensmith/Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +21.9s
6 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +28.5s
7 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +29.2s
8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +41.1s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) 48.2s
10 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai) +58.8s
11 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1m08.8s