Ott Tänak fastest in Monte Carlo shakedown

Ott Tänak fastest in Monte Carlo shakedown

Ott Tänak set the fastest time in the Monte Carlo shakedown which marks the first round of the 2024 World Rally Championship (WRC) season.

Three test runs were conducted in accordance with WRC regulations, the first two of which were mandated for all drivers. The two-mile Route de la Garde stage was covered in mud and dry conditions, with a lot of dirt being shoved along the road by cars as they made their runs.

The top five drivers did not improve after their first run where Ott Tänak finished with a time of 2.00.5, which put him 0.1 seconds clear of Toyota’s Elfyn Evans in second place and +0.8 ahead of his Hyundai teammate Thiery Neuville.

Tänak’s second run was even faster, coming in at 2.04.7 as the Estonian held first position since the other drivers were unable to match their initial pace. The third and last run which was optional saw Tänak improve once more to 2.04.2, while Evans was little slower at 2.05.2 compared to his first lap.

This comes after Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja, who shared two race victories with M-Sport Ford during the 2023 season, returned to Hyundai at the end of last season. However, the 2019 world champion said that he is a little nervous about the 2024 season.

“It’s quite exciting, and a bit nervous as well to start the new year,” said Tanak “I’m in a new car again so it’s a big challenge. Even if I have been here before, it’s still a lot of unknown, so we’ll try to maximize.”

Evans, who is leading Toyota’s battle for drivers’ championship this year, stated that he still needs to fine-tune his GR Yaris Rally1 before tomorrow’s opening stages.

“It’s nice to be in the car,” he said. “I’m never happy, on the whole the car is OK, but there’s not a lot of grip.”

The fastest run by Hyundai driver Neuville was 0.8 seconds slower than that of his returning teammate as he finished third while nine-time Monte Carlo winner Sébastien Ogier finished shakedown 0.2 seconds further in fourth.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen finished fifth and sixth respectively as the two M-Sport Ford Pumas rounded out the Rally1 lineup, with WRC debutant Grégoire Munster finishing ahead of Adrien Fourmaux.

Upon resuming his full-time Rally1 seat, Fourmaux faced a differential problem right away on his first run of the Route de la Garde stage. Although he finished two more runs in shakedown, he was still 6.2 seconds slower than pace-setter Tänak, finishing in eighth place.

The race weekend gets started on Thursday night with the first shakedown.

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