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World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier is just two stages away from kicking off his bid for a sixth-straight title with victory on the Monte Carlo Rally.
The M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver had his lead trimmed to just over half a minute at the end of Saturday’s running, but it is back out to 46.2s after a fine pair of stages on Sunday morning.
Ogier was quickest of anyone through SS14 to add 11.5s to his advantage over Ott Tanak, and beat the Toyota driver again despite only going seventh-fastest on SS15.
Tanak was slowest of anyone through SS15, but his second place is not under threat as team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is just under two minutes back in third.
The Toyota Yaris drivers still run 2-3-4 and Esapekka Lappi has edged clear of Kris Meeke’s Citroen.
Lappi started the day 1.6s ahead of Meeke but added 12s to that on SS14 and was just over half a second slower on the next stage to have a decent cushion heading into the final two runs.
Elfyn Evans’ hold on sixth place looks less secure as Thierry Neuville continues to close in.
Neuville was second to Ogier on SS14 then won SS15, his fourth stage triumph of the rally.
The Hyundai driver is now just 8.7s behind Ogier’s M-Sport team-mate.
Bryan Bouffier suffered a small spin on SS14 but remains a lonely eighth, while Craig Breen’s still ninth in his Citroen, several minutes ahead of WRC2 leader Jan Kopecky.
Leading positions after SS15
|1||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||3h55m08.1s|
|2||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||46.2s|
|3||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||1m51.7s|
|4||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||4m39.9s|
|5||Kris Meeke, P.Nagle||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||4m52.9s|
|6||Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||5m15.7s|
|7||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||5m24.4s|
|8||Bryan Bouffier, X.Panseri||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||6m06.8s|
|9||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||9m15.5s|
|10||Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler||Skoda Motorsport II||Skoda||15m35.3s|