WRC - OGIER WINS THE OVERNIGHT BATTLE WITH MEEKE | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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Sébastien Ogier ended the first full day of competition in Rallye Monte-Carlo topping the leaderboard after an intense day-long battle with Kris Meeke. The lead between the two changed hands three times, but fastest time in the final stage gave the Frenchman a 9.5 second advantage going into the longest day of the rally tomorrow. Behind Meeke, Jari-Matti Latvala has moved up to third, overhauling team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen after the Norwegian spun in the penultimate stage.

Today’s route took in two loops of three stages covering 116.50 competitive kilometres. Ogier trailed Meeke last night but fought back this morning and, despite a slow puncture in the second stage, claimed the lead going into the mid-day service after setting the fastest time. The Frenchman again won two of this afternoon’s repeated stages, toppling Meeke from the top slot in the final stage. The Northern Irish driver has enjoyed a trouble-free day, pushing when he felt comfortable with the conditions and the feeling with the DS3 WRC, leaving him and Ogier in a league of their own and nearly a minute ahead of third-placed Latvala. The Finn lost time yesterday having hit a rock but has run without problems today, climbing from seventh to fourth, and then into third when Mikkelsen spun in the penultimate stage and dropped over 30 seconds.

Both Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo have struggled with handling issues in the new generation Hyundai i20 WRC, Neuville faring better and overnighting in fifth with his team-mate seventh. Mads Østberg, with new co-driver Ola Floene, continues to acclimatise himself with the Fiesta, Floene and their pace note system and while Monte-Carlo has never been one of his most favoured events, the Norwegian is sixth in his first event back with the M-Sport World Rally Team. Stephane Lefebvre is eighth in the DS3 WRC and Bryan Bouffier and Ott Tanak round off the top 10, the latter losing time in SS6 when he spun, went into a ditch and rolled.

Hayden Paddon, in the 2015 specification Hyundai, was fifth last night but the New Zealander went off the road in the first stage, hit a tree and took a wheel off. Eric Camilli – who is competing in his first event in a world rally car – was an impressive fifth quickest through stage four and held eighth going into the afternoon stages. He too ended up off the road but will be unable to re-start on Saturday due to rollcage damage. Robert Kubica, eighth overall last night, also slid off the road.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Elfyn Evans has set a blistering pace, taking victory in all six stages to overcome more than a minute’s deficit after a puncture in last night’s first stage. He now leads the category by over 90 seconds. The FIA WRC 3 Championship is being led by Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby who has similarly dominated; the Citroën DS3 R3 driver has nearly two minutes in hand to Jordan Berfa.

Rallye Monte-Carlo – Unofficial Results after Section 3

1.   Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 29min 06.1sec

2.   Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle


1hr 29min 15.6sec

3.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 30min 14.2sec

4.   Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger Synneväg

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

1hr 30min 39.9sec

5.   Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 WRC

1hr 30min 53.9sec

6.   Mads Østberg/Ola Fløene

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

1hr 31min 24.6sec

7.   Dani Sordo/Marc Marti

Hyundai i20 WRC

1hr 32min 13.9sec

8.   Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau


1hr 32min 38.1sec

9.   Bryan Bouffier/Victor Bellotto

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

1hr 33min 24.7sec

10. Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder

Ford Fiesta RS WRC

1hr 34min 31.9sec