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Monte Short Review

Toyota Aced It

Toyota was clearly the car to have in this rally. They won 16/18 stages, took a 1-2 and got 4 of the top 6 places. Can’t do much better than that.

Sébastien Ogier, winner of the 2023 Monte Carlo Rally. Photo by Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Ogier was sublime and always in control. Rovanperä showed incredible speed at times (esp. SS14 that was run in darkness). Evans showed such excellent pace on Friday that David Evans proclaimed on Dirtfish’s new Live Center that it looked liked he was back at the top where he belonged. His performance seemed to fade a bit after he got a puncture on SS5, though. It soured the mood, perhaps. Katsuta was pretty consistent but didn’t show anything special.

Hyundai Off With Setup

Neuville was expected to fight for the win here given his past performances. He was never close to troubling Ogier though and could barely mount a challenge against Rovanperä. He didn’t think it was an issue with the i20N’s pace but rather with setup which wasn’t optimal for the conditions. It seems the teams were not expecting this year’s Monte to basically be a dry tarmac rally. Lappi and especially Sordo struggled even more. Lappi was faster on Saturday but couldn’t find the sweet spot on other days. Sordo was simply off the pace and miserable the whole time.

Decent Start for M-Sport

It might be tempting to say that M-Sport had a terrible rally with two crashes from Loubet and niggling problems – gear change on Friday, power steering on Saturday – for Tänak. Neither of them were ever on podium pace either. We shouldn’t forget however that the Puma is completely new to Tänak. He didn’t have a decent base setup to start the rally. He got some points on the board – which he hasn’t managed in the previous three Montes – and some idea for the direction of future development. Loubet is inexperienced in the Monte and manifested that with two offs which the Boss won’t like. He did show decent speed on some stages though so it wasn’t all bad.

Next: Sweden

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