2023 WRC Season Starts With Rallye Monte-Carlo
Toksport WRT arrived to Monaco with 6 Škodas competing for WRC2 category. With car #23; Oliver SOLBERG and Elliott EDMONDSON, with car #24; Nikolay GRYAZIN and Konstantin ALEKSANDROV, with car #26; Marco BULACIA and Axel CORONADO, with car #28; Chris INGRAM and Craig DREW, with car #30; Sami PAJARI Enni MÄLKÖNEN and finally with car #37; François DELECOUR and Sabrina DE CASTELLI. But unfortunately Sami Pajari withdrawn from Rallye Monte-Carlo after falling ill prior to the start on Thursday evening.
With the fantastic start of the rally, Nikolay Gryazin claimed two stage wins to take the early lead as the 2023 WRC2 season got underway at Rallye Monte-Carlo on Thursday evening. The Toksport WRT driver opened up a commanding 16.7 seconds advantage across Thursday night’s 40.2 competitive kilometres in his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. He won the opening stage by 7.9 seconds and the next by 8.6 seconds.
Kicking off Friday with a 16.7 seconds lead over his rivals, Gryazin was immediately on the pace. He posted the second-quickest time through the day’s opening test, just 0.7 second down. But not just comfortable with conserving his lead, the 25-year-old pushed his brand new Fabia RS Rally2 to go fastest on the next four stages, only slowing down slightly in the day’s final test to ensure a 29.7sec lead over rivals when the field returned to Monte-Carlo Service Area.
On Saturday, another faultless drive allowed our crew to stretch his advantage in the category to more than 45 seconds heading into the day’s final test – a night-time run through Ubraye – Entrevaux. However, a front-right puncture around seven kilometers from the end of the stage put a hit to his lead and narrowed to lead to 15.2 seconds over his rivals.
On the Wolf Power Stage, as his tyres having seen better days, it was close but Gryazin hold onto his lead, edging his rivals by just 4.5 seconds. He commented: “The front tyres were completely dead and I understeered a lot, but I just tried to keep it on the line.” Rally veteran François Delecour, driving another Škoda from Toksport WRT, topped the WRC Masters Cup by more almost five minutes.
After the finish, there was a protest from another competitor claiming Gryazin had breached Article 19.2 of the 2023 FIA WRC Sporting Regulations by cutting a corner 13.2km into SS14 on Saturday evening. By reviewing the evidence submitted and checking onboard footage from Gryazin’s car, stewards upheld the protest – penalising Gryazin by 5.0 seconds, making him second by just 0.5 second.