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WRC – Ogier maintains Monte lead

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Rallye Monte-Carlo - Saturday morning

Sebastien Ogier has maintained his Rallye Monte-Carlo lead after Saturday morning’s two stages and the Frenchman has marginally extended his advantage over Thierry Neuville, the rivals still only split by 5.3 seconds. Jari-Matti Latvala has moved up into third, following the retirement of Andreas Mikkelsen.

Today’s route, which ultimately takes the crews to Monaco this evening, takes in two repeated loops of two stages covering 93.38 competitive kilometres. Tyre choices were more straight-forward today and Ogier went into the loop adopting a cautious approach. He immediately took 3.6 seconds out of Neuville in the opener and while the Belgian attempted to strike back in the second stage, he was unable to significantly close the gap. Neuville admitted his tyre choice was not the best in the second stage but was happy with his performance otherwise.

Behind them, the battle for third was intense but ultimately swung in Latvala’s favour. The Finn had a good feeling with the Yaris and from fifth this morning moved into fourth after the first stage when Andreas Mikkelsen was forced to retire at the end of the stage having taken a wheel off when he hit a wall. Sebastien Loeb initially moved into third after SS9 but then dropped behind Latvala when he stalled at the start of the next stage. He and Latvala are now just 4.7 seconds apart going into the afternoon’s repeated loop.

Ott Tänak has also moved up the leaderboard courtesy of two fastest times, and retirements, the Estonian lucky to escape after nearly going off the road in SS10. Kris Meeke is in sixth, managing his pace and focusing on points in the Power Stage tomorrow such is the gap to fifth position.

Gus Greensmith is seventh and leading the FIA WRC 2 Pro Championship ahead of Kalle Rovanperä, the rivals each winning one of the morning stages. Yoann Bonato has also maintained his WRC 2 Championship lead and heads Guillaume de Mevius by over two minutes.

In addition to Mikkelsen, Esapekka Lappi was forced into retirement with an unconfirmed technical issue, and Elfyn Evans went off the road.