WRC

Sebastien Ogier clings to Monte Carlo lead ahead of Thierry Neuville as podium battle intensifies

Sebastien Ogier is clinging to the lead of Rally Monte Carlo after Saturday’s stages, with Thierry Neuville 4.3 seconds adrift.

The gap back to the Hyundai driver remained fairly stable throughout Saturday leaving the pair neck-and-neck for the final day of the event.

The battle for third has intensified, with Sebastien Loeb currently holding the final podium spot but Jari-Matti Latvala sits only 2.3 seconds behind despite struggling with understeer.

Nine-time champion Loeb had lost time and the position after a stall in SS10 but came back at the leading Toyota driver in the following stage.

Thursday evening leader Ott Tanak was the star of the day after being fastest through all four stages of the day, making up time after a disastrous Friday to get back up to fifth, and only 17.3 seconds away from third-placed Loeb.

The Estonian’s brave decision to run SS11 without studded tyres paid off and it was a major factor in enabling him to catch up to the leading pack.

Kris Meeke finished the day in sixth after a positive day for the Northern Irishman, ahead of Gus Greensmith, leading WRC2 Pro driver in seventh.

WRC2 frontrunners Yoann Bonato and Gregoire de Mevius sit in eighth and tenth, with Stephane Sarrazin in ninth.

Hyundai lost Andreas Mikkelsen from the running in the opening stage of the day when a collision with the wall destroyed his wheel hub assembly.

Esapekka Lappi was another casualty of the opening stage with a technical problem ending his hopes of a day’s running.

Elfyn Evans was the third retirement of the day after running wide and dropping down a bank where he hit a tree, causing severe damage to his M-Sport Ford Fiesta.