Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has increased his lead on Rallye Monte Carlo and he will now take a 51.1 second advantage into the final day.

Ogier trailed overnight leader Bryan Bouffier by 47.3 seconds at the start of Friday's action, but soon closed up and then moved in front in the first test this afternoon, SS9, when his rival spun and lost around 40 seconds. The 2013 WRC champion then consolidated his position in SS10 and SS11 and is now well placed as crews head to Monaco for the last four tests.

"A much better day than yesterday - the most important thing is we're leading the rally," Ogier told the official WRC site.

Speaking back in service, Ogier added: "Thankfully we made an intelligent tyre choice today. However, the heavy rain meant conditions were once again extremely difficult. In particular, the spots with fresh bitumen were almost like ice. There is a good reason why we drivers call those conditions 'Black Ice'.

"On the whole, we are happy with the second day. After all, we not only reduced the deficit but are actually ahead of Bryan Bouffier going into the final day."

Bouffier meanwhile may have lost the lead, but he is still on for an excellent second in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. He was only sixth in SS11, although that was still a good effort given he missed much of it during the recce after taking a wrong turn. Instead he borrowed the pace-notes made by Francois Delecour.

"I am really pleased with the way our rally has gone. Considering the conditions and the spin that we had [on SS9] we have to be happy to still be here in such a strong position," Bouffier remarked.

"Looking at where we are now, I think it would be interesting to see some snow tomorrow. The [Day 3] stages are very narrow and when you complicate them with an added challenge like that, anything can happen. We have already seen how positions can change. But overall, our target will be to maintain this position - not to do anything stupid, and to get to the end of the rally with a good result."

Behind, Kris Meeke is currently on for the final place on the rostrum, 47.5 seconds off P2 and over a minute up on Citroen team-mate, Mads Ostberg in fourth.

"If I had to choose between the snow and the changes in grip that we had to manage today, I think I'd have to say I prefer the snow!" Meeke noted. "There was absolutely no grip on the worn tarmac roads. When the conditions are like that, it's so easy to make a mistake. I preferred to control my pace in some sections.

"This rally is still very tough. We are progressing in line with the plan we drew up before the start. We need to concentrate on the job in hand - we now have a position to defend."

"Perhaps I was too cautious this morning when the roads were very slippery," Ostberg added. "But I avoided making any mistakes. I feel that we improved a lot between the first and second runs. On Sisteron - Thoard, I really wanted to push. I had to force myself to stay calm. In any case, it's Kris that is just in front of me and there's no point in me trying to chase him down. Third and fourth would be a good overall result for the entire team."

Jari-Matti Latvala completes the top five, moving ahead of Elfyn Evans after ending the leg with the quickest time in Clumanc-Lambruisse.

"Another 'Monte' day that once again had its highs and lows, but also a nice finish," Latvala said. "The morning's loop was very slippery and difficult. The sheer quantity of rain had made the patches of bitumen particularly tricky. Unfortunately we suffered a puncture after the midday service, and lost a lot of time as a result. Winning the final stage of the day and climbing back up to fifth place has given us plenty of motivation ahead of the final day. A top-five finish was our goal right from the start, and we are still on course to achieve that."

Evans now drops down to sixth, but is still ahead of his M-Sport WRT team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. Hirvonen lies in P7, 29.2 seconds back.

"It's been tricky. There are so many things about the car and about the set-up that you need to know for Tarmac. Now that I get more mileage, I am started to understand what I need to change to make it more comfortable for me to drive," Hirvonen explained.

"It's not easy and, driving with a compromised tyre choice all the time, it's tough. We have to be happy that we are here. I think everyone knows that Monte is never over until it's over and there are still some very difficult stages to come tomorrow. We just need to wait and see what happens."

"The last stage [SS11] was good, but overall the day has just been about conserving what we have and making sure we get the car to the end," Evans continued. "This is a fantastic opportunity for me and the knowledge we've gained so far is pretty invaluable. I don't think you could experience conditions like this anywhere else, and now we just need to ensure that we make the most of it."

Of the rest, Andreas Mikkelsen is eighth in the third works VW Polo R WRC, ahead of Jaroslav Melicharek and Matteo Gamba.

"It is no coincidence that the Rally Monte is regarded as the most difficult rally on the WRC calendar," Mikkelsen commented. "It is incredibly hard to make the right tyre selection. It is almost impossible to judge the conditions out on the route correctly. A lot of grip here, standing water or icy sections there - it all changes dramatically from one metre to the next. We felt the effect of that on the first special stage of the afternoon. On slicks, we had no chance of avoiding sliding on a slippery spot in a very slow curve. Fortunately we could continue, but we lost a lot of time.

"On top of that, I had to let my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala through, as he was flying on different tyres. We were ultra-cautious on the final special stage in the dark. I am pleased to have arrived in Monaco. Tomorrow we tackle the legendary stages on the Col de Turini - a first for me."

In WRC2, Yuriy Protasov is comfortably on course for the class win, more than 6.5 minutes up on Robert Barrable. Lorenzo Bertelli is third. Armin Kremer had been set for second in WRC2, but went off the road in SS11.

The big casualty today though was Robert Kubica. The former F1 man had been battling for third with Kris Meeke until an error in SS9. He joins the likes of Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo, Francois Delecour and Martin Prokop on the sidelines - although they all went out on Thursday.

The event now concludes on Saturday, with two stages on the bill - both to be used twice, although the repeats will be run in the dark. SS12, La Bollene Vesubie 1 (23.40km) is due to start at 14.48 hours local time.

Rallye Monte Carlo: Overall standings after Stage 11 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 3h 14m 51.7s M
2. Bryan Bouffier M-Sport Ltd Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 51.1s
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 38.6s M
4. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 48.9s M
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +06m 04.4s M
6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06m 14.5s M
7. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06m 43.7s M
8. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +10m 16.9s M
9. Jaroslav Melicharek Slovakia WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16m 00.8s
10. Matteo Gamba Peugeot 207 S2000 +20m 01.4s


11. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +21m 14.6s WRC2
12. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +25m 03.7s
13. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +28m 01.6s WRC2
14. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta R5 +28m 23.6s WRC2
15. Eamonn Boland Subaru Impreza STi R4 +32m 28.4s

WRC2 standings after Stage 11 (Top 3):

1. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 3h 36m 05.9s WRC2
2. Robert Barrable Ford Fiesta R5 +06m 47.0s WRC2
3. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta R5 +07m 09.0s WRC2

WRC3 standings after Stage 11:

1. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 4h 32m 27.1s WRC3

Notable retirements:

SS1. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Went off the road M
SS1. Francois Delecour Ford Fiesta RS WRC Retired
SS1. Julien Maurin Ford Fiesta RRC Retired WRC2
SS2. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical M
SS5. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Mechanical M

SS9. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off the road M
SS11. Armin Kremer Ford Fiesta R5 Went off the road WRC2

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial


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