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Evans shines on Monte Carlo opening stages

In control: Elfyn Evans looks on from his car before the start of the 92nd Monte Carlo Rally (Valery HACHE)
In control: Elfyn Evans looks on from his car before the start of the 92nd Monte Carlo Rally (Valery HACHE)

Elfyn Evans began his campaign to capture an elusive maiden world rally title by taking control of the Monte Carlo Rally on Thursday.

The Welsh driver, runner-up to Kalle Rovanpera last season, grabbed the lead of the iconic season-opener after two stages played out in the dark in the mountains above the Principality.

Behind the wheel of a Toyota, Evans carved out a lead of more than 15 seconds over Belgium's Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai.

Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier of France was more than 21 seconds off the pace in third in a Toyota.

Evans, the favourite for the 2024 title with double world champion Rovanpera opting to only race selected rallies, won both Thursday's stages -- over 2019 world champion Ott Tanak in the first and then seeing off Neuville in the second.

Standings after two stages:

1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota), 2. Thierry Neuville/ Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) at 15.1, 3. Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (FRA/Toyota) 21.6, 4. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (EST/Hyundai) 22.8, 5. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 39

Stage winners:

Elfyn Evans (SS1, SS2)

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