The French pair will start the third and final day of the Italian round half-a-second in front of their Toyota team-mates and title rivals, Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin.

Ogier and Evans are both vying to be crowned World Rally champion for an eighth and first time respectively, although the picture is more favourable for Ogier.

Irrespective of how Evans fares this weekend, a top-three finish will hand the Frenchman the crown on what is his last full season in the sport’s top division.

“It has been a funny day because the lead is changing all the time,” said Ogier, paying tribute to the tenacity and never-say-die character of Evans.

“I didn’t expect to regain the lead tonight because obviously, since the beginning of the rally, I am taking less risk and I am losing some time.

“I now have that gap and I just need to cruise and manage the gap tomorrow,” he added. “If we win it will be the cherry on the cake but the target we are chasing for tomorrow is not really the rally win.”

Evans revealed that his speed and confidence on the last Saturday stage had been hampered by the set-up of his car's headlights, with these not illuminating the areas of the stage he needed to see given how tight and precarious some parts were.

"It was a better afternoon than morning, definitely, but I found the last one to be tricky," he said. "The lights seemed fine yesterday but tonight I just couldn't see anything. There are so many places you are turning late and the car is pointing in a completely different way.

"It was difficult, but of course it's the same for everyone," he added.

Rally Monza concludes tomorrow, with crews tackling three stages based around Monza Circuit, with the end-of-rally Power Stage bringing the curtain down on the 2021 World Rally Championship campaign.