Thierry Neuville has concluded the second day of Rallye Monte Carlo action with an extended lead despite Sebastien Ogier making significant headway on the second loop to keep him within range of the top spot.
Hyundai's Neuville had entered the midday service park with a half-minute advantage over Ott Tanak, the Belgian's cause aided by main rival Ogier losing 40secs with an early off before struggling with confidence in his new Fiesta in the ensuing stages to drop more than a minute adrift.
However, the Frenchman appeared to be back up to speed in the afternoon, taking a full 20secs out of Neuville's lead on SS7 before going a further 8secs quicker than his rival in SS8.
As a result, Ogier has jumped from third to second at the expense of team-mate Tanak – albeit by just 0.3s -, though Neuville's three stage wins over the course of the day means he still ends the leg with an extended 45secs advantage out front.
Behind Tanak, who enjoyed a quick and trouble free day on his M-Sport return, Jari-Matti Latvala continued to protect fourth in the new Toyota Yaris despite a spin on the final stage of the day, the Finn making up for Juho Hanninen's crash out of third on SS3 to stretch clear off fifth place Dani Sordo.
Sordo had been sixth coming into the final stage after being surpassed by Craig Breen in the Citroen DS3, but a spin for the Irishman at the same corner as Latvala in SS8 would see him slip back behind. The pair are split by just seven seconds.
Andreas Mikkelsen continued to stamp his mark on the WRC2 proceedings in his Skoda Fabia, the former VW WRC driver winning five of the day's six stages to extend his lead to two and a half minutes and hold seventh overall, more than two minutes up on Elfyn Evans who is recovering ground in the DMACK Ford Fiesta following an off earlier in the day.
Following exits for Hanninen and Kris Meeke in the morning, there were no more major incidents in the afternoon, while Stephane Lefebvre up to 12th as he recovers ground under the restart system following overnight technical issues.