Sebastien Ogier has a slender two second lead over Thierry Neuville at the end of day two of 2019 Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Ogier, making his first start since his return to the Citroen World Rally Team, won two stages across Friday including on SS6 where the result could have easily been different if not for a small mistake by Neuville.
The Belgian went too fast into a corner early on, forcing him to go down a side road and eventually costing what he thought was about 15s although he did recover and eventually only dropped a couple of seconds to his rival by the end of the 20km Valdrôme – Sigottier 2 test.
A win on the final stage of the day also helped the Hyundai Shell MOBIS World Rally Team driver, where he reduced the 14s advantage Ogier had down to just 2s by the end of Friday.
Stage three, the opening stage of the day and the first run through where Neuville hit issues was cancelled because of spectator trouble early on Friday with several drivers including Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala blaming the cancellation for affecting his tyre strategy.
The next stage and now the first action of the day gave Sebastien Loeb his first ever WRC stage win in a Hyundai, with the team’s new signing also going on to win the second run through the Roussieux – Laborel stage later in the afternoon.
Nine-time champion Loeb was running in third overall after his pair of stage victories, but a poor time on the day ending Curbans – Piégut 2 test dropped him behind both Hyundai teammate Andreas Mikkelsen and Latvala, who tied with Ogier to win SS6, to sit fifth going into Saturday.
Mikkelsen is 1m:17.7s behind leader Ogier, with Latvala and Loeb both close behind and the trio are separated by just 8.2s. Elfyn Evans completes the top six.
Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand were both forced to retire on SS6 with broken wishbones, with the former also suffering from a broken driveshaft on the Citroen C3 WRC. The Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team also hit problems with Ott Tanak getting a puncture and Kris Meeke smashing a wheel both on the same stage. The pair are now seventh and eighth overall at the end of day two. Teemu Suninen is 22nd overall after restarting this morning following his accident last night.
WRC2 PRO is still led by Gus Greensmith in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta after Kalle Rovanperä’s accident last night, with the Brit admitting “it’s been the most enjoyable day of rallying I think I’ve ever had” on Friday, while WRC2 is led by Citroen C3 driver Yoann Bonato who has a 1m47.4 advantage over Adrien Fourmaux. Overnight leader Guillaume de Mevius is down to third, a further 7s adrift.
Finally, Enrico Brazzoli in the RGT Cup class sits 45th overall in his Abarth 123 Rally.
Day three of the 2019 Rallye Monte-Carlo takes place tomorrow with a further four stages planned totalling over 90km of stage miles.