Evans takes Monte Carlo lead with Ogier close behind


FILE PHOTO: FIA World Rally Championship - Rally Sweden - Stage 7 of Second Round - Torsby, Sweden - February 15, 2020. Elfyn Evans of Britain (Toyota Yaris WRC) speaks to the media. TT News Agency/Micke Fransson/via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Welshman Elfyn Evans led an angry Toyota team mate Sebastien Ogier after the second day of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Friday.

Seven times world champion Ogier won the day's first three stages on slippery asphalt roads in the French Alps near Gap but then lost time with a costly spin and puncture, ending 7.4 seconds off the lead.

"I was pushing in the final stage because I was angry," said Ogier, a seven times Monte Carlo winner who drove the last stage with three winter tyres and one studded.

"Conditions were very difficult with a lot of rain and we had to carry a studded tyre on the car. After a couple of kilometres it was starting to move at the rear."

Evans also had the same unbalanced mixture of tyres on the day's final stage.

"Seb had a fantastic day. He took a lot of risks and maybe I didn’t take quite enough," said Evans.

Hyundai's overnight leader Ott Tanak dropped to third overall, 17.9 seconds behind Ogier, after struggling to see at the end through a misted-up screen.

Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera lay in fourth place after taking the lead briefly in the morning and then incurring a 10 second time penalty. The Finn later lost more time with an excursion into a field.

The rally is being run without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with Friday's opening stages starting before dawn due to an evening curfew. The race formally finishes in Monaco on Sunday.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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