CLICK HERE for Monte Carlo Rally leading standings after SS5
Two stage wins have allowed Sebastien Ogier to move back into the lead of the Monte Carlo Rally following Friday's first loop of stages, 1.5secs up on Kris Meeke.
With Meeke starting day two almost seven seconds ahead of Ogier, the pair maintained a similar margin after SS3 and SS4 with a stage win apiece, but Ogier's rapid run though Chaillol for SS5 would see him stop the clock at a more substantial eight seconds up on the Citroen driver.
As such, Ogier takes a slender 1.5secs lead over Meeke into the afternoon loop of stages, the pair putting a solid margin between themselves and Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian holds down a relatively lonely third position, 37.8secs behind the lead but almost 20secs clear of fourth place team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
After a cautious opening night, Latvala was the morning's big mover, leaping from seventh to fourth – helped along by a second fastest time on SS5 -, placing him three seconds ahead of leading Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville, while top Ford driver Mads Ostberg is just under 20secs adrift in sixth.
Latvala's ascension was also helped by an early exit for Hayden Paddon, the Kiwi – who was fifth overnight – sliding off on SS3 through Corps and striking a tree. Despite carrying on for another kilometre with a damaged wheel, Paddon was eventually forced to stop and retire, though he is expected to restart under Rally 2 tomorrow.
The same corner would also be the downfall for ex-F1 driver Robert Kubica, who struck the same tree in a low speed off and was forced to abandon his BRC Ford Fiesta. Furthermore, WRC2 Elfyn Evans would also be caught out by the tricky right-hander – a particularly icy stretch due to tree cover -, but was kept on the road by glancing Kubica's stricken Ford, allowing him to continue.
Dani Sordo runs seventh, but is under pressure from the morning's star performer Eric Camilli, the M-Sport newcomer making the biggest gains of any driver with a pair of top six times on SS4 and SS5, the young Frenchman climbing to eighth ahead of Stefan Lefebvre and Ott Tanak.
Following his near miss on SS3, Evans has established a sizeable lead in the WRC2 class, the former M-Sport WRC driver quickest in all three stages – by 13, 21 and 16secs respectively -, to overturn the overnight puncture-dictated deficit to Quentin Gilbert and move 35secs ahead.