Elfyn Evans has an 8.9 seconds lead over Thierry Neuville at Friday midday service on Rallye Monte Carlo as Ott Tänak suffered a huge accident.
Tänak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja walked away from an enormous crash, after running wide on a flat-out right-left flick on stage four they flew off the road, took out a tree and rolled down an embankment, destroying the Hyundai as a result.
The defending champion had been running fourth at the time as he tried to catch Neuville, Evans and Sebastien Ogier ahead of him. Both the defending champion and his co-driver have been taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
It was the Welshman who stole the show across the morning, winning all three stages and taking the lead on the second test of the day after already taking 20 seconds out of Neuville on SS3.
Stage three was chaotic, to say the least – Tänak, Ogier, Neuville and Mads Østberg all either spun or struggled with an icy left-hander with the latter running wide and hitting a wall, while the same corner ended Gus Greensmith’s day less than a stage into Friday.
The young Brit also spun on the icy corner but with little grip, he lost control of the Ford Fiesta WRC and couldn’t do anything to stop the car sliding across the road and dropping into the inside of the corner and he couldn’t continue.
With Tänak out, this promotes both Sebastien Loeb, who had a relatively quiet morning and the recovering Esapekka Lappi into the top five overall.
Kalle Rovanperä sits sixth as he continues his WRC debut for Toyota, 24.6 seconds behind M-Sport driver Lappi, while Takamoto Katsuta lies seventh ahead of WRC3 leader Eric Camilli.
Stephane Sarrazin had been second in class but stopped on the final stage of the morning to change a puncture, meaning Frenchman Camilli has over a minute lead over Nicolas Ciamin.
WRC2 also saw drama after Østberg’s incident with a wall, with Ole Christian Veiby now leading the class and ninth overall ahead of the Norwegian by over two minutes. Adrien Fourmaux completes the top three in class.