Double podium to start the season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has started the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship season with a double podium finish at Rallye Monte-Carlo with Sébastien Ogier second and Elfyn Evans third.

Both Ogier and Evans were involved in an exciting fight for victory throughout the event, where drivers faced a challenging mix of conditions on the asphalt roads of the French Alps even if they were generally drier than usual.

Ogier spectacularly claimed the lead during Saturday afternoon when he recorded the 700th stage win of his WRC career, and ultimately went into the final day on Sunday just 3.3 seconds away from first-placed Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).

Despite his best efforts in pursuit of a record-extending victory in Monte Carlo, Ogier and his co-driver Vincent Landais would eventually have to settle for second place, finishing 16.1s behind the winner.

Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin made an excellent start to their season when the rally got underway on Thursday night, claiming an early lead that they held until Saturday morning.

After banking good points under the championship’s new format by ending the penultimate day in third, Evans continued to push hard on Sunday when additional points were on offer for the fastest drivers. He took second in Sunday’s separate classification, plus fourth in the rally-ending Power Stage, to end the weekend with 21 points and third place in the standings. Ogier, who was second in the Power Stage and third-fastest across Sunday, is second on 24 points.

Takamoto Katsuta was among several drivers caught out on an icy corner on Friday morning, when he lost five minutes after sliding wide, but showed some strong pace as he and co-driver Aaron Johnston recovered to seventh place overall and also took third in the Power Stage.

With second and third in the overall results, in the Sunday classification and in the Power Stage, TGR-WRT leads the manufacturers’ championship by one point.

The GR Yaris Rally2 made its competitive WRC debut this weekend with three of the four entered cars completing the full rally distance in the hands of customer teams. Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen (Printsport) were the best-placed crew at the finish in 12th overall and fifth in class RC2.