Ott Tanak has slashed Sebastien Ogier’s lead at Rallye Monte-Carlo to less than 15 seconds at the end of Friday’s action after the M-Sport Ford survived a scare on SS7.

The reigning World Rally champion looked set to extend his overall lead at the 2018 season opener to around one minute but a spin into a ditch 5km from the end of SS7, Roussieux – Eygalayes 2, saw the French driver lose over half a minute and needed a spectator’s help to get his Ford Fiesta WRC car back on the road.

Ogier’s near-miss coupled with Tanak’s solid progress over the afternoon stages sees the M-Sport Ford driver’s lead cut to 14.9 seconds by the new Toyota recruit who earlier in the day bagged his maiden stage wins for the Japanese manufacturer.

A significant time gap has grown between the front two and the rest of the WRC contenders with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo in third slipping to almost one minute behind overall leader Ogier.

Esapekka Lappi has continued to impress for Toyota in fourth place but leads team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by just 0.2s at the end of SS7. Kris Meeke still heads up the Citroen charge but remains in sixth and over 90 seconds off of Latvala and Lappi while M-Sport Ford’s Bryan Bouffier continues to catch the eye on seventh place.

Both Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) have maintained their comeback after disastrous opening stages on Thursday night when the pair both lost over four minutes on the leaders. Evans holds eighth place just 2.4s ahead of Neuville with Craig Breen rounding out the top ten for Citroen after brake issues curtailed his charge.