Sebastien Ogier won two of the three afternoon stages of Rallye Monte Carlo to claim a narrow 1.2 seconds lead over Elfyn Evans going into Saturday.
The six-time champion won the opening pair of tests before a second-place finish behind Thierry Neuville on the last stage of the day was enough to leapfrog him ahead of his Toyota teammate into first after a dramatic day of action.
Evans had an 8.9 seconds advantage at midday service over Neuville, but that was cut by 6.4 seconds on the first stage of the afternoon after the Welshman damaged a wheel. Although now third, the Neuville’s final stage win means the trio are now split by just 6.4 seconds.
After Ott Tänak walked away from a huge accident this morning, this let Sebastien Loeb and the recovering Esapekka Lappi move up the leaderboard and they both continued their consistent and solid runs in fourth and fifth respectively.
The ever improving Kalle Rovanperä is slowly closing on Lappi but took just 2.6 seconds out of him across the afternoon and is sixth, while Takamoto Katsuta is a lonely seventh in the fourth Toyota.
The WRC2 class saw yet more drama on the final three stages of the day. After Mads Østberg fell to second behind Ole Christian Veiby this morning, it was the Hyundai driver’s turn for bad luck and changed a puncture on stage six.
This means Citroen driver Østberg is now back in the lead of the class- the pair separated by just 13.9 seconds.
Eric Camilli continues to lead WRC3 and is eighth overall, with his nearest challenger being fellow French driver Nicolas Ciamin, 57.8 seconds behind.
Yoann Bonato got the better of Yohan Rossel for third on the final stage and takes a 1.5 seconds advantage into tomorrow after rival to the pair Stephane Sarrazin crashed early on stage six.