Monte Carlo WRC: Ogier takes 30s lead into final day

Sebastien Ogier will take a lead of more than half a minute into the final day of the 2018 WRC season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Monte Carlo WRC: Ogier takes 30s lead into final day
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford
Jari-Matti Latvala, Miikka Anttila, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford

The reigning champion’s advantage was halved from its largest point as Toyota’s Ott Tanak continued to apply the pressure, having fallen back on the day’s opening stage.

Ogier seemed to hint he was not happy with his tyre selection and lost six seconds to Tanak, but also claimed that deficit was “in the plan as I wanted to have 30 [seconds in hand] tonight”.

Tanak has chipped away at Ogier’s lead ever since shipping more than a minute on Saturday’s first stage, bringing the gap from 1m18.4s at that point to 33.5s after SS13.

He has four stages tomorrow to try to overhaul his 2017 WRC teammate, but may choose to play it safe and bank second given his advantage of almost a minute over Jari-Matti Latvala.

The second Toyota is a lonely third after the final Yaris driver, Esapekka Lappi, lost several minutes with a puncture on SS11.

That dropped Lappi to fifth, behind Citroen’s Kris Meeke, but he recovered well and ended the day with a fine SS13 run that was quickest of the three Toyotas and enough to get him back into fourth.

Meeke’s messy Saturday ended with an unspectacular final stage, and Citroen will need to find more performance if he is to overturn the 1.6s deficit to Lappi and steal fourth on Sunday on pure pace.

Elfyn Evans just about makes it a three-car fight for fourth spot after easing his way back into contention with a strong Saturday performance that ended with the second-quickest time on SS13, behind Thierry Neuville.

The Hyundai man is now up to seventh as his stage-winning effort overhauled the third M-Sport Fiesta WRC of Bryan Bouffier.

Ninth-placed Craig Breen spent most of the day as a “snow plough” but the final stage meant his position at the head of the field was favourable at last, and he capitalised to set the third-fastest time.

Jan Kopecky remains 10th and comfortably in control of the WRC2 class.

Standings after SS13:

 Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
 Sebastien Ogier Ford 3:30'30.9
 Ott Tanak Toyota 33.5
 Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota 1'32.7
 Esapekka Lappi Toyota 4'38.5
 Kris Meeke Citroen 4'40.1
 Elfyn Evans Ford 5'00.2
 Thierry Neuville Hyundai 5'33.6
 Bryan Bouffier Ford 5'43.4
 Craig Breen Citroen 8'49.0
10   Jan Kopecky Skoda 14'04.4
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Monte Carlo WRC: Tanak cuts into Ogier's lead

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