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.