Ott Tanak has cut into Sebastien Ogier’s advantage at Rallye Monte-Carlo after the latter spun during the penultimate stage of the day.
Ogier leads Tanak by 14.9s on a day in which his lead fluctuated during the two loops of three stages each, while Dani Sordo started and finished Friday in third position.
The #1 M-Sport Ford was quickest on Special Stage 4 as he grew his lead to 40.4s by the end of the morning loop, which featured little of the forecast rain and no snow/ice.
Ogier’s margin would have been even greater by the end of the day had he not spun into a ditch, losing over half a minute.
“Today was not so bad, and it’s always good to be in front at the end of the day, but it’s true that the afternoon was not the best for us,” said Ogier.
“We lost almost 40s due to a spin which put us in the ditch, and I have to thank the guys who helped get us out.”
Tanak won SS3 and SS6, both of which were the 26.72km run from Vitrolles to Oze, to put himself 33.9s behind the Frenchman with two stages remaining in the day.
The new Toyota driver initially lost ground as heavy rain fell during SS7 but profited from Ogier’s mistake and then eked out another four seconds from the lead in the afternoon’s final stage.
Sordo is nearly a minute off the lead, having reported a mix-up in tyre selection on his Hyundai on SS4 and SS5.
Esapekka Lappi threatened to take the place from Sordo before the rain came and now sits 10.2s further back, and just 0.2s ahead of Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Kris Meeke is the first of the Citroens, more than 90s adrift of the Finnish Yaris drivers in sixth position.
The other stage winners of the day were those who needed to make comebacks after poor opening nights.
Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford) took out SS5 and SS7 while Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was fastest through SS8 as they advanced eight positions each to eighth and ninth respectively.
They are followed on the leaderboard by Craig Breen, whose Citroen suffered brake problems after hitting a rock on SS3.
Andreas Mikkelsen had already lost his overnight position of second with a mistake on SS3 when an alternator problem for his Hyundai caused him to retire.
Day 3 from this evening (AEDT) is marked by two loops of two stages north of Gap, then another run through the Bayons to Breziers stage which featured on Thursday night, making for 117.55km of competitive running.
Rallye Monte-Carlo: After Special Stage 8 (Top 10)
|1||1||Sebastien Ogier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||2:07:15.4|
|2||8||Ott Tanak||EST||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+0:14.9|
|3||6||Dani Sordo||ESP||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+0:59.7|
|4||9||Esapekka Lappi||FIN||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+1:09.9|
|5||7||Jari-Matti Latvala||FIN||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+1:10.1|
|6||10||Kris Meeke||GBR||Citroen||C3 WRC||+2:45.5|
|7||3||Bryan Bouffier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+3:34.6|
|8||2||Elfyn Evans||GBR||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+4:01.7|
|9||5||Thierry Neuville||BEL||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+4:04.1|
|10||11||Craig Breen||IRL||Citroen||C3 WRC||+5:06.6|
Highlights: Stages 1 to 5
Replay: Ogier spins into a ditch