Monte Carlo WRC: Evans stays in front, Neuville closes in
Toyota WRC driver Elfyn Evans has maintained his Monte Carlo Rally lead, while Thierry Neuville had a dominant afternoon in his Hyundai i20.
Evans went into the afternoon loop 4.8s ahead of his Yaris teammate Ogier, but lost all of that advantage as Ogier went second fastest in the St Ledger Les Melezes - La batie Neuve stage, leaving both drivers tied for the lead as they went into the final run of the day.
In SS12, La Breole - Selonnet it looked like Evans might have lost his rally lead after going off the road slightly towards the end of the stage, but Ogier, who was running behind, lost 9.5s in the third split after being “too cautious on the ice”, meaning Evans goes into the final day of the rally holding a 4.9s lead.
Thierry Neuville had a strong afternoon in his i20, repeating his feat from this morning by winning the opening St Ledger Les Melezes - La Batie Neuve test, before taking his second stage victory of the day in SS12, finishing 4.6s ahead of Evans’ Yaris.
That result means the Hyundai driver has closed the gap to the lead down to 6.4 seconds with four stages remaining on Sunday.
Sebastien Loeb admitted he was too cautious again, losing 11.6s to fourth-placed Esapekka Lappi in SS11, and he was a further 9.5s behind the M-Sport driver in the following stage after spinning in the La Brede - Selonnet run, but despite his difficulties he still maintained fourth position, with Lappi 14.1 seconds behind in fifth.
Toyota driver Kalle Rovenpera took a gamble on his tyres in the afternoon, selecting two winter tyres and two softs for the final stage while his rivals all went for soft and supersofts, but it didn’t pay off and he is now 48.9s behind Lappi in sixth.
Takamoto Katsuta had a much better afternoon loop, having spun his Yaris in the morning, and he moved back up to seventh place.
Eric Camilli remains the WRC3 leader in his Citroen C3, but he has now dropped down to eighth, 44.1 seconds behind Katsuta.
Mads Ostberg has moved up a position to ninth, while C3 driver Ciamin rounds out the top ten in his WRC3 Citroen C3.
M-Sport driver Teemu Suninen had finished in the top ten of both the afternoon stages and is now only 13.2s behind Ciamin going into the final day of the rally.
Monte Carlo WRC: Evans retakes lead from Ogier
Monte Carlo WRC: Neuville leapfrogs Toyota duo