Traditionally Rallye Monte-Carlo started with night stages. This time competitors had two of them and 6 more stages the next day. Totally 8 stages in leg 1 and more than a half of whole rally is done.
First stage was very successful for one of the fastest drivers Mateusz Przyslakowski, he and his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC managed to win the opening stage by more than 11 seconds on closest opponent. Mateusz haven't won any more stages on leg 1 but he managed to keep in first place till SS5 where he had an accident. The Pole finished leg 1 in 3rd place while fighting with his damaged car in the rest of the stages.
The other top 3 performer from shakedown Juan Marzoa had a catastrophic start of Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Spaniard lost almost a minute to Mateusz on SS1 while having help from spectators to get back on the road. It looked like fight for top positions is over but what Juan did in other stages was spectacular. He won 2 of other 6 stages and in the rest of them he finished 2nd. This is how his VW Polo R WRC is now sitting in 2nd place after leg 1 and just 21,2 seconds behind rally leader.
While other fast drivers retired one by one (Alex Karkach retired in SS3, Victor Trnka in SS4) and had all kind of dramas (Anton Kochetkov crashed after finishing SS6) Rene Ritter was the one who drove fast and stable. German won three stages in leg one and his worst result was just 9th place in SS5. Rene took the rally lead after Mateusz mistake in SS5 and continued it till the end of leg 1 with 21,2 seconds advantage on Juan Marzoa and 39,78 seconds on Mateusz Przyslakowski.
More than a half rally is driven but there is two more legs to go and 8 stages of fight. Seeing two R5 cars in TOP 10 and Oscar Estévez doing insane job with his 2WD Reanault Clio in 7th place looks like everything is still possible in Rallye Monte-Carlo. Stay tuned for more!