WRC Rally Monza halted after heavy crashes

Rally Monza’s first stage of the afternoon, the second pass through Selvino, has been abandoned following two significant accidents on the same corner.

Both the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC of Gus Greensmith/Elliott Edmondson and the Hyundai i20 WRC of Ole Christian Veiby/Jonas Andersson came to grief on the same bend 22 km into the 25 km stage.

Increasing snowfall since the morning loop had clearly made driving conditions considerably more treacherous.

Based on their earlier experience, the first cars into the stage had opted to run on wet weather tyres only, carrying snow tyres as spares. Greensmith arrived at the downhill right-hander with no traction, hitting the guardrail on the outside of the road, which threw his Fiesta into the rock face on the opposite side before rolling back into the woods below.

The Toyota of Takamoto Katsuta made it through the stage safely on wet tyres but then Veiby hit the same piece of guard rail that had collected Greensmith, tearing much of the front end off his car and leaving it broadside across the road.

All four crew members emerged safely from the wreckage.

One driver pleased with the interruption would be Hyundai’s Ott Tanak, currently in fourth place overall but dropping 30 seconds on the Selvino stage before it was red flagged.

Both of the main contenders for this year’s WRC drivers’ title, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier and Britain’s Elfyn Evans, were already in the stage when it was red flagged and will now have to wait until a path is cleared to get out.

The organisers have confirmed that the stage will not restart and that the rally will continue with SS11, the second pass through the 11 km Gerosa stage, after a 10 minute delay. 

Morning loop: Ogier leads Sordo and Evans

Ogier won the first stage of the day by 8.3 seconds to go past Hyundai’s overnight leader Dani Sordo. The Spaniard closed the gap by winning the second stage of the morning, but dropped back on the third, which was won by Toyota’s current drivers’ championship leader, Elfyn Evans.

Following the retirement of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville during Friday’s stages around the historic Monza circuit, the drivers’ title is effectively a race between the Toyotas of Evans and Ogier. Neuville has not restarted the event and Evans must finish in fourth place or higher to take the title if Ogier wins the rally.

Only the defending WRC champion, Hyundai’s Ott Tanak, has a mathematical chance to beat the Toyota drivers. However, the Estonian needs to score maximum points and for Evans and Ogier to both retire and is focused on his team’s push for the manufacturers’ title.

The morning loop will be repeated by all classes through the afternoon before a final blast around Monza circuit this evening closes the final full day’s action.

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