Saturday’s itinerary covered a repeated loop of two stages: St-Léger-les-Mélèzes-La Bâtie-Neuve (SS9/SS11 16.87km) and La Bréole-Selonnet (SS10/SS12 20.73km). Evolving conditions throughout the day made life tough for crews as they negotiated Monte’s notoriously challenging roads.
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul started in the same way they finished Friday’s running – with a confident stage win in SS9. They closed the gap to the rally leader to 5.6s but saw the margin increase again after losing ground in the subsequent stage. Undeterred, they clawed back some of the deficit in the afternoon loop, taking a clean sweep of fastest times in the repeat loop to finish 6.4s from the lead – exactly the same gap as the start of the day.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena persevered in the #9 Hyundai i20 Coupe to end the day in fourth place overall. Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja returned to the Service Park today, having been discharged from hospital after overnight monitoring following their crash on Friday. The Estonians were in good spirits and are already looking towards the next round of the championship in Sweden.
Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Stage wins in both runs of St-Léger-les-Mélèzes-La Bâtie-Neuve (SS9/SS11)
- Fastest time in SS12 allowed the crew to close the gap to 6.4-seconds
Neuville said: “I am happy with what we have achieved today, and with the job of the whole team. We made a big improvement compared to yesterday and I am feeling more confident. Three stage wins out of a possible four and we’re in the fight for victory, that’s the positive we can take away from today. I am pleased with the performance we have delivered. Thanks to the corrections we got from the stages, we were able to push much harder without increasing the risks to go off. That was important and I was confident to give it everything. The plan for tomorrow is to go for the win but trying to be safe at the same time.”
Crew Notes: Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (#9 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
- Fourth place overall with four more stages to run on Sunday
- Crew aiming to support team’s push for a strong two-car points finish
Loeb said: “It has not been a good day for me; I have been struggling to get in the right rhythm. In these conditions, when you are not feeling at 100%, you lose time. The conditions have been difficult to read, with grip levels continuously changing. I made a small mistake in the final stage of the day, when I lost the car and spun on the final icy corner. But overall, we have just tried to stay secure. The three guys in front are flying so now my target to defend fourth place and hope for a better day tomorrow.”
Team Principal Andrea Adamo: “Once again today, I think we have to thank Thierry and Nicolas for the amazing job they have done to allow us to keep up with the leaders. For sure, there have been a few ‘heartbeat moments’ but we are still here and tomorrow, depending on the road conditions, I think there will be the possibility for them to fight for the victory. Again, we are showing that we never give up; we are fighting until the very end in every condition and situation. When it seems as if we are falling back, we catch up again. Today is the perfect picture of our crews and team’s spirit.”
Sunday at a glance
- The final day of Rallye Monte-Carlo will see crews negotiate four stages on very familiar routes in the Alpes Maritimes
- La Bollène-Vésubie-Peïra Cava includes the iconic Col de Turini and covers a distance of 18.41km. La Cabenette-Col de Braus is slightly shorter, at 13.36km, and will play host to the Power Stage with extra points up for grabs for the five fastest drivers.
- There are 63.54km of stages left to run, and all still to play for in the opening round of the 2020 season.
Classification after Day Three
|1||E. Evans||S. Martin||Toyota Yaris WRC||2:28:35.1|
|2||S. Ogier||J. Ingrassia||Toyota Yaris WRC||+4.9|
|3||T. Neuville||N. Gilsoul||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+6.4|
|4||S. Loeb||D. Elena||Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC||+2:24.3|
|5||E. Lappi||J. Ferm||Ford Fiesta WRC||+2:38.4|
|6||K. Rovanperä||J. Halttunen||Toyota Yaris WRC||+3:27.3|
|7||T. Katsuta||D. Barritt||Toyota Yaris WRC||10:31.1|
Press release Hyundai Motorsport