Sebastien Ogier is just one stage away from marking his M-Sport Ford debut with a victory on the Rallye Monte Carlo but the podium fight has been re-ignited after Ott Tanak hit problems and dropped to third.
Having assumed the lead of the event at the end of leg three after long-time leader Thierry Neuville slumped down the order after making a mistake and suffering damage, Ogier could afford to take it easy over the first two stages of the day to protect his plus-minute advantage.
Regardless, his cause has been aided by closest rival and M-Sport team-mate Tanak suffering engine problems through SS14.
Though Tanak struggles persevered through the stage at a loss of 12secs, he'd be forced to conduct repairs between he stages. Whilst the Estonian would get going again in SS15 he would lose 90secs to the pace setter and a further 50secs for arriving at the start of the stage five minutes late
His misfortunate means Jari-Matti Latvala is up to second place in the new Toyota Yaris, the Finn well placed to secure a superb result for the returning manufacturer now half a minute clear of the Ford driver.
However, Tanak's hopes of reaching the end of the rally have been assisted by SS16 being cancelled due to spectator overcrowding. It comes after a spectator was killed on the first day of action following an accident for Hayden Paddon.
It means Dani Sordo and Craig Breen in fourth and fifth face a challenge to claw Tanak back in the fight for third place even if he is ailing.
A strong start to the day for Sordo – including the fastest time in SS14 – has seen him sneak back ahead of Breen, but the pair remain split by just two seconds with Tanak 34secs up the road.
Elsewhere, Elfyn Evans continues to set impressive stage times in the DMACK Ford Fiesta but is now in a lonely sixth place, the Welshman instead focused on tyre choice for the concluding Power Stage.
Similarly, former leader Neuville was back up to speed but is now only likely to get as high as 15th following his SS13 disaster. The Belgian was leading by almost a minute when a slight wide moment in the final stage of day three caused him to clip a kerb and damage his suspension.
Like Sordo, Stephane Lefebvre was a first-time stage winner on the rally with the quickest run through SS15, the Citroen C3 driver 11th now just 38secs now shy of ninth with just two WRC2 cars ahead.
Andreas Mikkelsen remains on course for WRC2 glory in the Skoda Fabia, the Norwegian 3mins 23secs clear of second place man Jan Kopecky.