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Sebastien Ogier takes a slender lead over Kris Meeke into the third day of the Monte Carlo Rally after trading stage wins with his rival throughout Friday's stages.
Having begun the day behind overnight leader Meeke, Ogier recovered the deficit to his rival during the morning loop of stages to nose ahead into midday service, a lead he would consolidate by topping SS6 through Corps.
However, a relatively laboured run through SS7 coupled to a storming time from Meeke would see the Briton pull back 5.8secs to move in front again, only for Ogier to fight straight back on the day's concluding Chaillol stage to go 10.3secs faster.
As a result, Ogier leads Meeke by 9.5secs ahead of Saturday's stages, the pair in turn a minute clear of the chasing pack, led by Jari-Matti Latvala in third place now.
Having started the day in seventh position, Latvala was the only driver capable of keeping up with Ogier and Meeke in terms of stage times, allowing him to climb to third position, though he is now 1m 08secs off his VW team-mate in the lead.
Latvala's cause was helped along by Andreas Mikkelsen suffering a time sapping spin in SS7, the Norwegian losing half a minute as a result, before dropping more time on the ensuing SS8 as he struggled to regain his confidence in the Polo R WRC.
Mikkelsen is now fourth, 25secs shy of Latvala and now under pressure from Thierry Neuville who, despite complaining of set-up problems and an incorrect tyre choice, edged clear of sixth place Mads Ostberg in the best of M-Sport Ford Fiestas.
Echoing Neuville's lack of confidence in the new Hyundai i20, Dani Sordo had an error-free but cautious second day on course, the Spaniard's seventh position largely made possible by misfortune for others around him.
Indeed, with icy patches keeping drivers on their toes, one corner in particular would prove treacherous enough to catch out three drivers through Corps, with Hayden Paddon and Robert Kubica sliding off on the first SS3 run, before Eric Camilli followed suit on the second SS6 loop.
Low speed as the accidents were, all three were nonetheless forced to retire for the day. It was a particularly frustrating disappointment for M-Sport newcomer Camilli, who had shown flashes of promising pace on his first full morning as a WRC driver and was running eighth when he slid off.
In his place is fellow French youngster Stefan Lefebvre, the Citroen driver picking up a 20secs penalty between stages before suffering an off on SS8, while Bryan Bouffier and Ott Tanak round out the top ten, the latter damaging his DMACK Fiesta against a tree in SS6.
In WRC2, Elfyn Evans – having started the day 41secs off the lead – enjoyed a clean sweep of stage wins to move more than 90secs in front, the Welshman dominating in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 to head up rallying veteran Armin Kremer and Julien Maurin.