Upgrade for free today
You have only 5 articles remaining to view this month.
Sebastien Ogier will take a lead of more than half a minute into the final day of the 2018 World Rally Championship’s season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.
The reigning champion’s advantage was halved from its largest point as Toyota’s Ott Tanak continued to apply the pressure, having fallen back on the day’s opening stage.
While his rivals went with supersoft Michelins, Ogier had soft tyres fitted to his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC for the day’s final stage because he “trusted” the information given to him beforehand.
He seemed to hint he was not happy with the choice when he said it was “a bit on the limit” and lost six seconds to Tanak, but also claimed that deficit was “in the plan as I wanted to have 30 [seconds over the Toyota] tonight”.
Tanak has chipped away at Ogier’s lead ever since shipping more than a minute on Saturday’s first stage, bringing the gap from 1m18.4s at that point to 33.5s after SS13.
He has four stages tomorrow to try to overhaul his 2017 WRC team-mate, but may choose to play it safe and bank second given his advantage of almost a minute over Jari-Matti Latvala.
The second Toyota is a lonely third after the final Yaris driver, Esapekka Lappi, lost several minutes with a puncture on SS11.
That dropped Lappi to fifth, behind Citroen’s Kris Meeke, but he recovered well and ended the day with a fine SS13 run that was quickest of the three Toyotas and enough to get him back into fourth.
Meeke’s messy Saturday ended with an unspectacular final stage, and Citroen will need to find more performance if he is to overturn the 1.6s deficit to Lappi and steal fourth on Sunday on pure pace.
Elfyn Evans just about makes it a three-car fight for fourth spot after easing his way back into contention with a strong Saturday performance that ended with the second-quickest time on SS13, behind Thierry Neuville.
The Hyundai man is now up to seventh as his stage-winning effort overhauled the third M-Sport Fiesta WRC of Bryan Bouffier.
Ninth-placed Craig Breen spent most of the day as a “snow plough” but the clear final stage meant his position at the head of the field was favourable at last, and he capitalised to set the third-fastest time.
Jan Kopecky remains 10th and comfortably in control of the WRC2 class.
Leading positions after SS13
|1||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||3h30m30.9s|
|2||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||33.5s|
|3||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||1m32.7s|
|4||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||4m38.5s|
|5||Kris Meeke, P.Nagle||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||4m40.1s|
|6||Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||5m00.2s|
|7||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||5m33.6s|
|8||Bryan Bouffier, X.Panseri||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||5m43.4s|
|9||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||8m49.0s|
|10||Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler||Skoda Motorsport II||Skoda||14m04.4s|