Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb remains in control of Rallye Monte Carlo at the end of the second day of the event.

Loeb started the day just over a minute up on his closest rival and after winning all three tests this morning he arrived at the mid-day halt having increased his cushion by 19 seconds. On the repeat loop this afternoon he continued to push and despite being just edged out in SS8 - when Dani Sordo was 0.2 seconds quicker - he won SS9 and SS10, to head into the overnight service with his advantage up to 1 minute 37.2 seconds.

"Today was a lot easier than yesterday, particularly as the ice had more or less melted by the time we went through," Loeb said. "I pushed because I like these conditions and I reckon that you have to pick up time when you can. Having said that, I think I didn't make the best decision tyre wise by keeping all four supersoft tyres for the Lamastre - Alboussi?re stage.

"Overall the day was fairly easy to manage, but I still had to keep the car on the road. We managed to increase our lead considerably and that means we'll be a bit more relaxed when we start tomorrow's stages. It seems there's a chance of snow!"

Meanwhile, the fight for the runners-up spot continues to ebb and flow between MINI WRC Team driver, Sordo and Ford WRT man, Petter Solberg. Solberg managed to get in front this morning, but this afternoon the Spaniard fought back and the second best time in SS10, 6.1 seconds up on 'Hollywood', put him back in P2.

"Today was good, as I didn't have any problems and it was more like rallying in normal conditions," Sordo commented. "It was a little bit slippery in the morning with some frost on some parts of the stages, but then some places were completely dry. It is good fighting with Petter as on one stage he is faster than me and then on another I am faster. In the last stage we took a little bit of time off him and got back to second, so we shall try to continue that way tomorrow!"

"The battle for second place is still very much on", Solberg added. "Third on the road is not a bad place to be starting tomorrow and I'm learning all the time in the car. If there's snow tomorrow that'll make things extremely interesting, and it will all come down to tyres and how we manage them."

Mikko Hirvonen is next up and fourth on his first outing with the Citroen Total WRT. The Finn is continuing to adapt to the DS3 WRC and while he set top-five times in every single test - including a second best time this morning in SS6 - he is still not really comfortable with his new car. Indeed he reckons he is driving too aggressively still and is now almost 2 minutes off the fight for 'silver'.

"I am in a good position to score some important points for Citro?n and I am ready to grab a place on the podium if I get a chance. I am not totally satisfied, however, because I think I'm still lacking pace when the road surface is changeable," Hirvonen explained. "I also have to adapt my driving style. The DS3 WRC requires a very gentle driving style and I am still too aggressive."

Evgeny Novikov completes the top five, having got back in front of Sebastian Ogier on the repeat loop this afternoon. The Russian has had the odd moment today, but finished with his two best times of the event thus far having gone fourth quickest in SS9 and SS10. He trails Hirvonen by just 11.1 seconds.

"We had some good stages this afternoon. We tried nothing special as these stages are very difficult, very narrow and very slippery. It was getting dark in the last stage so I really had to concentrate hard. Everything else is fine but for sure there are some things to improve on," Novikov commented. "I know I could have gone faster if I knew the stages. There were a few places on some of the stages where for sure I could have gone flat-out without risk, no problem, but I don't know the roads."

Behind, Novikov's M-Sport Ford team-mates Francois Delecour and Ott Tanak hold sixth and eighth, with Pierre Campana still sandwiched between the Fiesta RS WRC cars in his MINI. Campana is almost 1.5 minutes off Delecour, while Tanak is 11 seconds back in P8. Delecour incidentally is 1 minute 28.4 seconds off P5.

"It was a difficult day for me," Delecour said. "For sure I'm enjoying the car and the stages, but these young guys, you know, they are too fast. Too young and too fast - it's very difficult for me."

"The second stage this afternoon [SS9] was tricky. The engine stopped on SS10 and we lost some time there - more than 10 seconds," Tanak added. "But the car is feeling good and I think we had some good tyre choices in the afternoon. We're thinking about different set-ups for tomorrow because the stages will be very different from today. I am more confident in the car, but with the tricky stages we are taking it steady. For sure I think I could go faster, but we need to finish the rally."

SWRC class leader and Proton Motorsport man P-G Andersson lies ninth, 22.5 seconds up on Kevin Abbring, who is competing for Volkswagen Motorsport in a Skoda Fabia S2000. Abbring is now the sole VW driver in action, after Ogier crashed out in SS10. The Frenchman had been running in a mighty impressive sixth up to his off. Ogier and co-driver, Julien Ingrassia both escaped unharmed, although Ingrassia was later taken to hospital for checks, after complaining about pain in his right arm.

Of the rest, Armindo Araujo is eleventh in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC car, ahead of the Ford Fiestas of Martin Prokop, Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg, the latter two running under the Go Fast Energy WRT banner.

"We struggled a bit this afternoon in the dirty conditions, especially where we found a lot of cuts on the road," Wilson noted. "We stiffened the springs in service which worked okay on the first stage [SS8], but it maybe wasn't the right way to go for the other two [SS9 and SS10]. We're definitely learning a lot. This was always going to be a bit of a test for us.

"Tomorrow, we'll see what the weather does and take it from there. There might be some snow so we'll see what happens. The stages are also very different from what they were today. Today the roads were quite narrow and bumpy, but tomorrow they'll be a lot wider and smoother."

Inaugural Academy champion, Craig Breen rounds out the top 15 - and also lies second in the SWRC, which disappointingly has only attracted three runners for this event (and one of those, Giandomenico Basso, went out in SS1!).

In the PWRC, Michal Kosciuszko is still on course for the class win, with Louise Cook second. Again though, like the SWRC, only three runners nominated the Monte, and again one retired early on, with gearbox problems sidelining Lorenzo Bertelli in SS2.

The action now continues on Friday and includes just three stages with around 77 competitive kilometres on the bill.

SS11, the 23.28 km-run through St Jean en Royans-Font d'Urle, gets underway at 10.02 hours local time [09.02 hours British time].

Rally Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 45mins 56.9secs M
2. Dani Sordo MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +01mins 37.2secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 40.9secs M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +03mins 40.4secs M
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 51.5secs M
6. Francois Delecour M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 19.9secs
7. Pierre Campana MINI WRC Team John Cooper Works WRC +06mins 49.6secs M
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +07mins 00.6secs M
9. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +10mins 08.9secs S
10. Kevin Abbring Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +10mins 31.4secs

Others

11. Armindo Araujo Armindo Araujo WRT MINI Cooper Works WRC +12mins 38.2secs M
12. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 49.0secs
13. Matthew Wilson Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 56.7secs
14. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +13mins 58.2secs
15. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +15mins 55.8secs S
16. Cedric Robert Citroen DS3 R3T +20mins 21.4secs
17. Michael Burri Peugeot 207 S2000 +21mins 29.3secs
18. Bryan Bouffier Peugeot 207 S2000 +21mins 35.0secs
19. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +21mins 42.0secs P

SWRC standings after Stage 10:

1. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 2hours 56mins 05.8secs S
2. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 46.9secs S

PWRC standings after Stage 10:

1. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 3hours 07mins 58.9secs P
2. Louise Cook Ford Fiesta ST +1hour 06mins 43.3secs P

Notable retirements:*

SS1. Giandomenico Basso Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 Accident S
SS2. Lorenzo Bertelli Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Gearbox P
SS3. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
SS4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Rolled M
SS4. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Retired

SS5. Peter van Merksteijn Sr van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical
SS10. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Accident

* Note: There is no Rally 2 (as the SupeRally has been renamed for this year) on Rallye Monte Carlo.

all times unofficial