Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier has stormed into the lead of Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the World Rally Championship. The Frenchman, who heads the field back to Monaco after two days of competition in the Alps, has 51.1 seconds in hand to Bryan Bouffier with third-placed Kris Meeke a further 47.5 seconds adrift.
Today’s action took in five stages, including two runs through the 49.03 kilometre Vitrolles to Faye test, and conditions remained as tricky as ever with wet roads, streaming water and mud pulled out from the sides of the road providing a real challenge for the crews. Closing the day, en route back to Monte-Carlo, the crews took in the 20.77 Clumanc-Lambruisse stage run in darkness.
Overnight leader Bouffier maintained his advantage early this morning, but a charging Ogier won the first stage to move from fourth to second. Bouffier claimed the following stage win, but in the second run through the following 49 kilometre stage Ogier’s fastest time saw him overhaul his rival and claim the rally lead. He went on to win the following stage to head the crews into Saturday’s final day of competition. Kris Meeke, who started second, dropped to third in the first stage and was in the thick of a battle with Robert Kubica, until the Pole went off the road into retirement in stage nine while holding fourth overall. As a consequence, Østberg moved up the leaderboard and Jari-Matti Latvala - who won the final night stage - holds fifth. Elfyn Evans continues to impress, the Briton sixth and ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. Andreas Mikkelsen, driving his first Rallye Monte-Carlo, rounds off the top eight.
Rallye Monte-Carlo – Unofficial Results after Day 2