Ogier closing in on Monte win

Ogier closing in on Monte win

Rallying

Ogier closing in on Monte win

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Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier is two stages away from a fifth consecutive Rallye Monte-Carlo victory, having safely negotiated the opening pair of Sunday stages. The Frenchman has further extended his advantage over Ott Tanak, the Estonian no longer prepared to risk a fine second position in his debut outing with Toyota. Teammate Jari-Matti Latvala remains in a lonely third position with the squad’s third Yaris WRC fourth in the hands of Esapekka Lappi.

Based out of Monte Carlo, today’s route is the shortest with two identical loops of two stages; La Bollene Vesubie  Peira-Cava which climbs to the summit of the famous Col de Turini, and La Cabanette  Col de Braus which has never been driven competitively and will also run as the closing Power Stage. Ogier was quickest through the first stage but dropped some time in the following one, briefly having to stop near the finish after a spectator set off a flare and smoke poured across the road.

Tanak is now in safe mode, especially with the tricky mix of conditions and the size of the gaps in front and behind; second position would represent his best result on the most famous rally in the world. Latvala went safe with his tire choice and, like some others, used the second test as a high-speed recce for the all-important Power Stage, where additional points are awarded to the fastest three drivers. Teammate Lappi had a similarly safe run through the stages and this too would be a significant result for the young Finn.

Thierry Neuville, in seventh, has been on a mission and has closed the gap to Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans having finished second to Ogier in the first stage and won the following one. He is now within 8.7 seconds of sixth-placed Evans but still targeting a move further up the leaderboard.

Meeke was shocked by the conditions in La Cabanette: “Black ice on loose gravel? I’m just trying to stay on the road, to be honest,” said the Northern Irishman.

Bryan Bouffier had a half spin but still has a significant advantage over ninth-placed Craig Breen, who has struggled a bit with the changing conditions. Jan Kopecky’s runaway lead in the FIA WRC 2 Championship remains intact and Enrico Brazzoli continues to head the WRC 3 registered crews.

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