WRC: Rally Monte Carlo Day 1 Takeaways
We had a short but action packed first day at Rally Monte Carlo, here are some of the key talking points.
Tanak on Fire
If last years Monte started the worst way imaginable with that monster crash, this years event couldn't have been any more different. The perfect start with two stage wins out of a possible two gives him a solid lead of 3.3 seconds over the rest of the field, whilst all of his rivals seem to have had imperfect stages, Tanak was on fire not putting a foot wrong and reminding everyone why he is a championship contender. Heading into the event their wasn't a great deal of talk about him, but now he has to be the favourite for the win, a win here would be a huge statement for his intentions during the remainder of the season.
M-Sport Losing Faith
It was a monumental effort for the UK based team to even get into the starting ramp at Monte Carlo this week, and the team were due a bit of luck and good fortune. For the first half of the first stage, it seemed as if that is exactly what they were going to get as Teemu Suninen was setting some blistering speed even leading on the splits. Then as quickly as it started it came to a dramatic end, he slid wide and hit a bank which flipped that car and went onto role down and into a tree. As you would imagine this did not go down well with the team, Rich Milliner was especially unimpressed being very critical of his driver in an interview stating very correctly that there is no point be so quick early on if it's going to end like that. This is another self-inflicted error that has ruined their weekend and this also means Gus won't have the license to push hurting his progress in the rally.
Rovanpera Lead Toyota
The driver who had probably the least press coming into the event was young Kalle Rovanpera, which is both understandable when his two teammates were first and second in the championship last season, but also surprising when you think how impressive he was in his rookie season. Remarkably, Kalle was the nearest challenger to Tanak and the lead Toyota ahead of his two more experienced teammates. With the other Toyota drivers, Ogier will be the most disappointed, languishing down in 5th after experiencing an issue with his brakes which knocked his confidence and puts him almost 17 seconds off the lead. Then with Elfyn, he will be fairly content ending the day in 3rd 8.5 seconds off the lead but with a great foundation to get a strong result in the rest of the Rally.