Sebastien Ogier will take a lead of 33.5 seconds into the final day of the 2018 World Rally Championship’s season-opener in Monte Carlo.
Ogier entered Saturday with a 14.9s advantage over the Toyota of Ott Tanak, however, it was quadrupled to 1m18.4s after the opening test.
The ‘Corps’ stage was littered with snow, with Ogier over a minute quicker than Tanak.
Tanak won the next two stages and halved his former team-mate’s rally lead by the end of the day.
The Estonian Toyota team-mates sit in third and fourth place with Jari-Matti Latvala set for his second consecutive Monte podium.
Esapekka Lappi lost fifth to Kris Meeke after picking up a puncture on SS11 but re-claimed that position on the final stage of the day.
Elfyn Evans rose from eighth to sixth place on Saturday, following Dani Sordo’s exit on the tricky opening test.
He also passed M-Sport team-mate Bryan Bouffier, who was pipped to seventh place overall by the recovering Thierry Neuville on Saturday’s last stage, the Belgian winning both of the final two stages.
Craig Breen was first on the road for Saturday’s five stages, he dropped minutes and is in a one-man battle for ninth place ahead of WRC2 leader Jan Kopecky.