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Rally Monte Carlo: In control Ogier pulls clear of Meeke

Sebastien Ogier keeps it tidy to put another 20secs between himself and Kris Meeke on the Rally Monte Carlo; Latvala, Mikkelsen disputing third.
CLICK HERE for Monte Carlo Rally leaderboard (top 15) after SS10

Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead over Kris Meeke on the Monte Carlo Rally to 30.1s after a faultless run through Saturday's treacherous two stage morning test.

With the day kicking off with the notorious 51km Lardier et Valenca stage, Ogier added 10.6secs to his advantage over the Briton through SS9 before consolidating this with the second fastest time through SS10, adding another 10secs.

Indeed, though Meeke remains Ogier's closest rival in terms of pure stage pace, he has now slipped half a minute behind his main rival as he struggles to force any errors from the three-time title winning Frenchman.

Jari-Matti Latvala retains third position but has now slipped 1m 43secs adrift of the lead as he focuses on retaining his provisional podium position. However, he remains under pressure from VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, whose risky alterative tyre strategy of studded rubber saw him yo-yo through the order.

Losing 1m 13secs to Ogier on the largely dry SS9, Mikkelsen subsequently flew through substantially icier SS10 to top the timesheets by a mammoth 44secs across just 17km. As a result, though he lost fourth to Thierry Neuville after SS9, Mikkelsen recovered the lost ground and now sits 19.8s behind Latvala in the fight for third after SS10.

Behind fifth place Neuville, Mads Ostberg is circulating in a relatively lonely sixth position now, his closest rival Dani Sordo having dropped back with a puncture and mechanical problems. Frustratingly, after two days of disappointing pace, Sordo's problems came just as he was picking up his form, his issues striking as he was heading for a top three time on SS9.

In his place, Stefan Lefebvre is now running in seventh place – despite a spin in SS10 -, ahead of Bryan Bouffier and Ott Tanak, the latter struggling with a lack of grip from his DMACK tyres, with Sordo now 10mins adrift in 10th.

Having built a mammoth 90secs lead on a dominant second day Elfyn Evans saw his advantage destroyed by a puncture on the first run of the day, allowing Armin Kremer to nose ahead briefly. However, the German would hit his own problems on SS10 which, coupled to Evans' remarkable seventh fastest overall on the test, would see the Welshman re-establish a 50s lead.

Indeed, with studded tyres clearly proving the savvy choice for SS10, Jose Suarez was the surprise pace setter in the Peugeot R5 – and sixth overall -, but could be in trouble after catching Quentin Giardino in the stage and being accused of spinning him out of the way.


by Ollie Barstow



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