Sebastien Ogier holds the lead of the Monte Carlo Rally by 14.9 seconds after Friday’s stages despite a moment.
After the first two stages on Thursday, Ogier led by 17 seconds, and he extended that lead on Friday morning with impressive pace, taking another stage win in SS4.
By midday service, he was already 40.4 seconds clear at the front.
The Frenchman was looking infallible, but lost control of his car on the exit of a hairpin on the extremely wet second running of the Roussieux stage, and ended up in a ditch.
“I spun in a hairpin and got stuck in a ditch. We lost about 30 seconds, I think. Very difficult conditions,” Ogier reflected.
Andreas Mikkelsen started the day in second, but the Norwegian made a mistake at a junction on the opening stage and dropped around 20 seconds in the process, before hitting more problems before SS4.
An alternator issue on his Hyundai delayed his entry to SS4 and eventually forced his retirement. He is expected to rejoin tomorrow under Rally2 Regulations.
Toyota debutant Ott Tanak now holds second place and is slowly catching up to Ogier.
The Estonian had won the opening Vitrolles stage by 3.9 seconds from his former team-mate Ogier, and won the same stage again by 6.5 seconds on the afternoon loop.
“The car feels perfect, it’s great to be in this position and fighting,” said Tanak at the end of the day, hopeful of a fight for the lead of the rally.
Just under a minute behind in third is Dani Sordo, who briefly held second place, before losing out to Tanak. 10.2 seconds behind him is Lappi, narrowly ahead of his compatriot and team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who was fighting understeer throughout.
Despite a mistake yesterday, Kris Meeke holds sixth, albeit a minute and a half behind Latvala.
The two M-Sport cars of Bryan Bouffier and Elfyn Evans sit in seventh and eighth respectively, although Evans has managed two stage wins.
Thierry Neuville is all the way down in 9th after losing yet more time this morning.
Late in the Vitrolles stage, the first of the day, he picked up a puncture on his rear left tyre, leaving him 35 seconds off the fastest time.
That put him down in an overall 17th, but the Belgian has worked his way back up to 9th, with the help of a stage win.
“We have to focus on getting a few more positions. Sixth could be possible,” Neuville explained after the morning loop.
Breen struggled too. After hitting a rock on SS3, he spent the morning loop battling a problem with his brakes that grew progressively worse.
On SS5, he lost so much time that he had to pull over to allow Esapekka Lappi through.
The highest WRC2 competitor is Jan Kopecky in his Skoda Fabia R5, with overnight leader Eric Camilli and Teemu Suninen, who will drive 8 rallies in a WRC car, both out of the rally.