Monte-Carlo - SS5: Ogier back ahead in Monte
Frenchman relegates Meeke after morning loop
Sébastien Ogier regained the lead of Rallye Monte-Carlo in Friday morning’s final stage to return to Gap for the mid-leg service with a slender 1.5sec advantage over Kris Meeke.
After sharing the honours through the opening two tests, Ogier was 8.2sec faster than his rival through Les Costes - Chaillol, despite his Volkswagen Polo R handling far from perfectly after he clipped a bridge in the previous test and bent the rear left suspension.
Meeke was third in the stage in Citroën’s DS 3 but denied any problems. “I chose my rhythm for this stage and I’m happy with it. OK, there are always places you can go faster but I kept my pace,” said the Ulsterman.
The top two are well clear, with Andreas Mikkelsen now 37.8sec behind in his Polo R. Jari-Matti Latvala climbed ahead of a frustrated Thierry Neuville into fourth after going second fastest in the stage. The two are separated by 3.4sec.
“The car is bottoming a lot, bouncing around. The suspension is too soft. We can change the dampers a bit. OK, the understanding of the car is better but we are not where we wanted to be,” said the Belgian, who is debuting Hyundai’s new-specification i20.
Mads Østberg is sixth in his Ford Fiesta RS, the Norwegian admitting it is taking time to settle in with new co-driver Ola Fløene. He was 30.8sec ahead of Dani Sordo, the Spaniard sharing Neuville’s frustrations in his i20.
World Rally Car rookie Eric Camilli and Stéphane Lefebvre are close behind Sordo in eighth and ninth respectively, with Ott Tänak completing the top 10.
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