Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Kalle Rovanpera had opening day of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo on Friday. The Finn ended the day in second place overall ending the day 3.3s behind Ott Tanak and speaking following the action he commented saying:

“The feeling was good in the first loop. The first stage was quite nice. It was my first time driving on wet asphalt with the new Pirelli tyres but the feeling was good. The second stage was much more tricky with the ice, but there the pace was also quite good and I enjoyed the challenge. I was a bit surprised about the pace because it didn’t feel so fast or a big push, but the car felt good. Tomorrow will be really tricky starting in the dark with ice and snow maybe but we’ll try to keep the same pace up.”

Elfyn Rvans had a great day coming home in third place overall on day one of Rallye Monte and speaking following the action he said:

“It was a difficult couple of stages to open the rally. It was quite wet and we had a lot of surface changes, so the grip was changing all the time. To top it off we had a delay waiting to start the second stage, so we had to enter it with cold tyres and that was pretty difficult. Immediately we went into a narrow village with ice on the road, so it was very difficult to generate temperature and gain confidence. But we got through it. We have the possibility of more wintery weather tonight, so we’ll have to wait until the morning and see what conditions we’ll face.”

Defending champion Sebastien Ogier ended the opening day of action in fifth place overall, 16.9s behind Ott Tanak and speaking following the action he commented saying:

“I had a cautious start in the beginning of stage one, because I have very little experience with these tyres and I needed to get a bit of a feeling. Then in the middle of the stage I started to have this brake issue, and so then the rest of the loop was tricky. When you are not confident with the brakes it’s quite hard to drive on the limit. It’s not an ideal start but for sure we will keep fighting and I’m quite sure the car will be 100 per cent tomorrow morning and now it’s up to me to do my best. Tomorrow morning it will be a super early start with probably some tricky conditions, so there is still a long way to go in this rally.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Principal Jari Matti Latvala commented saying:

“Overall it has been a good start to the rally for the team, to have all three cars within 17 seconds of the lead with many challenging days to come. It was tricky for the drivers with the new tyres as we haven’t been able to test them in the kind of wet conditions we faced this afternoon, so they were learning about that during the first two stages. Kalle, for me, did an amazing job. I would never have expected him to have the speed that he had right at the start of the rally. Elfyn did a good performance and a clean drive too. Unfortunately Seb had a problem with the brake pedal, and as a driver I know that’s not a comfortable feeling to have, so of course he had to be a little bit careful. But it was a good clever drive from him to get back to service and we will change the parts tonight so that it will be fixed for tomorrow.”

 

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