Monza WRC: Ogier survives scare as disaster strikes Evans

Sebastien Ogier survived a scare that could have derailed his World Rally Championship title bid while drama also struck rival Elfyn Evans on Sunday morning at Rally Monza.

The Toyota title contenders were separated by 0.5s before the final day’s action in Italy, but after an eventful morning loop, Ogier’s rally lead has extended to 7.6s and he remains on course to secure an eighth world title in his final full-time outing.

Ogier clipped a concrete barrier that marked out a chicane on Monza’s historic grand prix circuit banking in stage 14 (Grand Prix 2). Luckily the impact only took a chunk out of the Frenchman’s right-front wheel and he finished the test one second behind stage winner Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), who holds fourth in the overall classification.

"I didn't expect it. It’s very easy here to hit something,” said Ogier after the incident.

Evans managed to complete the stage cleanly but could only match Ogier’s time to preserve the 0.5s gap to his rival.

However, the Welshman’s victory and slim title hopes suffered a blow on stage 15 (Serraglio), the final test of the morning, when he locked up and run on at corner and stalled the car. After re-firing the car he suffered another stall, this one strangely occurring mid drift in a corner, before finishing the stage 16.8s behind Neuville, who claimed his second stage win in a row.

"I locked up the brakes and couldn't get the car turned and went into the bales and stalled,” said Evans. “We had another stall later on too. Not a great stage."

After his lucky escape in the previous test, Ogier drove sensibly to reach the stage end 9.7s shy of Neuville, but 7.1s faster than Evans to open up a relatively comfortable lead heading into the final stage of the season.

"I was driving safe, I was a bit on the safe side but it was a clean stage,” said Ogier. “When you are here, you take it.”

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: WRC.com

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo completed the two morning stages cleanly to remain in the final podium spot, some 21.6s behind Ogier, but 14.3s ahead of teammate Neuville.

Despite a spin after being caught out by gravel dragged onto the circuit, Oliver Solberg ended the loop in fifth spot and remains on course for his best WRC finish to date driving a 2C Competition Hyundai i20 WRC car.

Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen has climbed to sixth after Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta suffered a wild spin after locking his rear wheels sending him into a concrete barrier that wiped out his front left wheel.

Katsuta, who dropped to seventh, limped through the stage and back into service but it is unclear if his Yaris can be repaired in time for the final Power Stage.

M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith ended the morning eighth overall after suffering an identical spin to Solberg on stage 15, while Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera, who elected to run winter tyres, is ninth.

Rally Monza will conclude this afternoon with one last blast through the Serraglio stage.

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