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Race Wrap: Monday, January 25

WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Sebastian Ogier made a perfect start to his final year in the WRC by taking his eighth victory in the Monte Carlo Rally and his 50th win in total.

The Frenchman trailed early in the event after brake troubles and a flat tyre, but then decimated his rivals on roads around his home town of Gap in France.

Toyota swept the top two spots, although runner-up Elfyn Evans admitted he was too tentative, as Thierry Neuville overcame a pre-event change of co-driver to run home third.

Ford was dismal as the M-Sport team’s lead driver, Teemu Suninen, crashed into retirement just halfway through the first special stage.

RESULTS

  1. Sebastian Ogier, Toyota Yaris; 2. Elfyn Evans, Toyota Yaris +32.6 seconds; 3. Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 +73.5 seconds.

SUPERCARS

People power has put Mark Larkham back into the Supercars pitlane.

The popular technical expert on the Supercars television coverage was originally dropped from the commentary team for 2021, when the championship rejoins the Seven Network as its free-to-air broadcaster.

But a massive response from fans, complaining about the decision, forced a re-think at Supercars HQ.

“We do listen and it is clear how much the fans love Larko. It was a mistake for us to part ways, but the outpouring of support from our fans proved we couldn’t carry on without him,” said Supercars CEO, Sean Seamer.

Larkham was gracious as he accepted the reversal.

“To everyone that supported, spoke out, commented, created and signed petitions, and showed care for both myself and our sport, I say a very, very sincere thank you,” said Larkham.

NEW ZEALAND GRAND PRIX

Shane van Gisbergen was magnificent as he drove from the pitlane to win the New Zealand Grand Prix.

SvG was up against serious opposition from both the Supercars and single-seater world, while Greg Murphy also joined the field.

His chances look to be going when the fire extinguisher triggered during the warm-up, but he started last and then tore through the field on his way to the front.

Daniel Gaunt was an earlier leader, and Andre Heimgartner also starred, but the race at Hampton Downs was all about van Gisbergen.

“Just watched one of the great drives. Superb aggressive overtaking and genuine car speed. A stellar drive,” said Mark Skaife.

RESULTS:

  1. Shane van Gisbergen; 2. Andre Heimgartner; 3. Matthew Payne.

TCR AUSTRALIA SERIES

It didn’t take Lee Holdsworth long to adapt from Supercars to the TCR Australia Series at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.

He was quickest in both official practice sessions for the Race Tasmania event, leading an Alfa Romeo Giulietta sweep of the top three times on a circuit that seems to suit the slippery shape of the Italian racer.

Michael Caruso was fourth, also driving an Alfa, as Nathan Morcom was best of the rest in a Hyundai i30 N.

Chaz Mostert was seventh but Tony D’Alberto, the runner-up in the inaugural TCR series in 2019, was surprisingly slow and only managed 16th in his Honda Civic Type R.

Sunday Practice Times:

  1. Lee Holdsworth, Alfa Romeo; 59.7559 seconds; 2. Jordan Cox, Alfa Romeo, 55.9003s; 3. Jay Hanson, Alfa Romeo, 55.9519

INDYCAR

The calendar has changed, again, in the lead-up to American’s single-seater halo series.

The third alteration to the IndyCar dates for 2021 has the opener at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama shifting back by a week until April 18.

The change comes after the original opener at St Petersburg was delayed and then the decision to switch the Long Beach GP to the final race of the season, in late September, in a decision which could kill Scott McLaughlin’s plan to co-driver with Will Davison at Shell V-Power Racing in the Bathurst 1000.

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