Sebastian Ogier will take a lead of over 30 seconds into the final day of the Monte Carlo Rally, as Ott Tanak steadily closes in on the overall leader
Ogier was over a minute ahead after the first stage of the day, held on incredibly tricky conditions, with Tanak dropping back massively having started the day just under 15 seconds behind Ogier. The reigning champion played it rather conservatively throughout the rest of the day, as Tanak hacked over a third out of his lead by the end of the morning to be around 39 seconds behind his former teammate. Ogier said he was happy with how things were going but body language at times suggested he was not completely comfortable with his Ford. He had also sustained damage during the opening stage but it turned out to be purely superficial.
Toyota currently occupy second, third and fourth with Tanak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi respectively. Lappi was in contention for a podium after Hyundai’s Dani Sordo dropped out of the rally after the morning stage, but he picked up a self-induced puncture on SS11 and dropped down the order, but he did recover to fourth. His error has left Latvala in a very lonely and quite safe third place,comfortably ahead of Lappi and comfortably behind Tanak, Latvala looking to bring the podium place safely home tomorrow. Lappi though faces stiff competition now from Kris Meeke’s Citroen, the Northern Irishman recovering from a difficult opening day of the rally to haul himself back into a top four contending spot, and a potential podium should any of the top three hit trouble on Sunday.
Thierry Neuville is still mounting a recovery challenge and is currently occupying seventh place, but showed disappointment at having not been able to get into a top four position following his minor but costly off on Thursday night. Hyundai looked to have the quickest car following the shakedown and Andreas Mikklesen was in a strong second place after Thursday, but reliability and driver error has cost the manufacturer any chance of a Monte Carlo podium or victory.