Sebastien Ogier says he was disappointed to see his battle with Kris Meeke for victory on the Monte Carlo Rally curtailed by his rival's retirement towards the end of the third day.
Though the three-time champion had been able to swell his overnight 10secs lead to a more formidable 30secs advantage after four of the day's five treacherously icy stages, Meeke's gearbox issue before the final tour of the day would see his lead multiply to two minutes.
However, while it means Ogier and Julien Ingrassia needs to keep his nose clean over just three more stages to kick off his quest for a fourth straight World Rally title with victory, the Frenchman admits he is disappointed that he won't be in direct competition with anyone now.
“The Rally Monte Carlo once again showed why it is the most difficult rally on the calendar today. The conditions on the stages were so varied that choosing the right tyres was something of a lottery. The majority of the 51 kilometres from Lardier-et-Valença to Faye were dry, but it was also icier than expected.
“The tenth stage was so incredibly snowy and icy – I felt like I was on the 'Streif' in Kitzbühel. All in all, I am more than happy with the way the day panned out for Julien and me.
“It is a shame that Kris Meeke is no longer in the rally. I would have liked to have continued the battle with him right through to the finish.”
Ogier, meanwhile, was roundly praised by fans on social media when this photo emerged of him attempting to help Meeke repair his Citroen on the road section.