Bryan Bouffier continues to lead Rallye Monte Carlo following the opening loop this morning, although Sebastien Ogier has closed and is now second overall.
Bouffier began the second day with a 38.8 second advantage, and while he conceded 11.7 seconds to Ogier in SS7, he was quicker than the reigning WRC champion in SS8, edging him out by 0.2 seconds.
The M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC pilot now heads back to Gap for the 30 minute service with his lead standing at 35.8 seconds.
"We had a really good morning. We've been able to set some really competitive times and I am really happy with that," said Bouffier. "Of course Ogier is very quick so we need to keep an eye on him, but I think that we can be very pleased with the job we have done this morning.
"It is great to be in the battle. I'm doing my best and the times have been good. There is a long way to go so we will need to be a little bit clever, but at the moment, everything is perfect."
Ogier concluded day one in fourth – 47.3 seconds off P1, but moved up to second in the first test when he was fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC. He reported some 'big slides' in SS7 and also had a moment at the end of SS8 and went off at the finish as there was a slippery patch of asphalt. Mads Ostberg also had a similar problem at the end of Selonnet-Breziers - he remains fifth in his Citroen DS3 WRC.
Meanwhile, Britain's Kris Meeke and former F1 pilot Robert Kubica are locked in a close fight for third, now split by just 0.8 seconds. Meeke pulled ahead a bit in SS7, but then Kubica came back in the next test.
“We were a bit unlucky on the long stage [SS7] – I think that the tyre pressures we opted for were a bit too low,” Kubica said back in service. “We thought that the conditions would be drying. We set some really good times in the beginning when the tyre temperature was good, but then there was some really having rain. The surface became really slippery and there was a lot of aquaplaning. We lost a lot of time there, but I still have to be pleased because the pace was very good.
“We're not taking any risks and when I don't feel confident I'm backing off quite a lot. Although we did have one moment at a really bumpy corner. We landed awkwardly after the crest and were very lucky not to have any significant damage. But everything is OK and that is the most important thing.
“To be so close to the world champion, I am of course very happy, but there is still a long way to go. Our primary aim is to be here at the end of the event, and I hope to achieve that.”