Elfyn Evans clawed back time following a damaged tyre to claim fourth place in the World Rally Championship opener in Monaco.

It was Toyota-Gazoo teammate Sébastien Ogier who claimed a record ninth victory at the legendary Monte Carlo event.

Kalle Rovanperä made it a one-two for Toyota-Gazoo, 18.8 seconds behind the Frenchman and ahead of Hyundai i20 N driver Thierry Neuville.

Evans matched his teammates for pace throughout the weekend and was second to Ogier before losing around 40 seconds with a damaged tyre in SS5 on Friday morning.

He and co-driver Scott Martin fought back to finish fourth, 27.8 seconds from the podium despite a brief spin on Sunday morning.

He was also third in the Power Stage to claim three additional bonus points.

Evans said: “Overall the weekend has been a positive one for us.

“It’s been a pretty good one in terms of pace and we probably had the potential to achieve a bit more.

“Some frustration on Friday put us out of contention for the podium but that’s rallying and the way it goes sometimes.

“After that, fourth was probably the best we could have done and the gap to third was just a bit too big.

“Still it’s solid points to start the season and a decent performance.

“The car was working really well; the team have been working hard and it shows in the overall result here.”

Mostly dry weather made this year’s rally more a test of outright performance than usual, and Ogier set the pace from the start with five straight stage wins as he opened up a lead of half a minute by Friday lunchtime.

The GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid was fastest in the first 11 stages of the season, its streak only ended on Saturday afternoon – by which point Ogier was focused on managing his lead.

He carried an advantage of 16 seconds over Rovanperä into the final day, when he proceeded to claim his eighth and ninth stage wins of the weekend and finished up with a winning margin of 18.8 seconds.

Ogier’s 56th WRC win is also the first for his co-driver Vincent Landais, in only the second event since he began working with the up-and-coming French navigator at the end of last season.

It is also Toyota’s fifth Monte win with a fifth different model of car: the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid winning all but two of the 18 stages across the weekend.

With Ogier once more only contesting selected events this season, second place plus victory in the rally-ending Power Stage represents an ideal start to Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen’s defence of their first championship titles.

Rovanperä grew in confidence and speed during the rally, taking six stage wins in total on his way to a first Rallye Monte-Carlo podium.

The strong start to the season for TGR was completed by Takamoto Katsuta in his WRC Challenge Program-supported entry.

He produced his strongest Rallye Monte-Carlo performance to-date alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston, frequently joining his team-mates in the top-four on stage times and finishing sixth overall.

Team principal Jari-Matti Latvala said: “We are very delighted with this result, it’s an amazing way to start the season.

“We were expecting tough competition this year and we were not sure how this rally would go, but all of the work that everybody in the team has put in has really paid off.

“Coming here to Monte Carlo I knew Sébastien was very motivated after coming so close to victory last year. You could see that hunger in his eyes from the start on Thursday night and after that he did a perfect drive.

“At the same time I’m also very happy to see the great pace of Kalle, of Elfyn and of Takamoto.

“Kalle improved step-by-step for his first Monte podium and I’m sure next year he will be ready to win here.

“We can see that the car is performing very well but we know we have to keep working.”

Ogier said: “It has been a perfect weekend. This rally means a lot to me and to win it is always something very special, so I’m going to really enjoy it. I think I can be proud of myself and proud of my team.

“It’s been quite a dominant weekend for the team. Toyota once again provided us with fantastic tools so thanks to them.

“It’s an amazing way to launch the season with a one-two finish and it was a strong performance from Kalle as well.

“Yesterday was hard for my nerves; I knew I could go faster but I didn’t want to take risks at all.

“Today I knew it was more about pure driving and could enjoy the end of the rally.

“I’m so happy for Vincent as well. It’s his first WRC win and he deserves it so much; he has done a perfect job to my right-hand side in only our second rally together.”

The top ten were filled out by Ford’s Ott Tänak in fifth, Hyundai drivers Daniel Sordo and Esapekka Lappi were seventh and eighth, followed by Skoda driver Nikolay Gryazin in ninth and Citroën man Yohan Rossel in tenth.