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WRC NEWS 

WRC Monte Carlo: Bouffier stays ahead at the end of day one

Bouffier stays ahead in Monte Carlo

Bryan Bouffier continues to lead the Monte Carlo Rally, with Kris Meeke, Robert Kubica and Sebastien Ogier fighting for second at the end of leg one.

After his muted start to his World Rally Championship title defence in the morning, Volkswagen driver Ogier won two of Thursday afternoon's three stages.

He angled his tyre choices towards better conditions than his rivals, who all anticipated more snow.

Heavy rainfall ultimately worked slightly to Ogier's advantage, although stage conditions were still very slushy.

There was little to choose between M-Sport Ford drivers Bouffier and Kubica, and Citroen man Meeke, through the afternoon.

Kubica jumped Meeke for second shortly after service, while Dani Sordo retired from this fight when his Hyundai refused to restart before SS5. He had got the new i20 up to third on its debut.

But Kubica could not make any inroads on Bouffier's lead, and lost second to Meeke again on the final stage.

The pair will start Friday 0.7 seconds apart, 39s adrift of Bouffier, with the flying Ogier just eight seconds behind them.

Mads Ostberg is fifth in the second Citroen, having pulled clear of Kubica's team-mate Elfyn Evans, who remains sixth on his Monte debut.

Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen have made their way up to seventh and eighth after struggling for pace and confidence in the morning.

Latvala had languished as far back as 18th early on, but has recouped 40s of his previous three-minute deficit to the front.

Leading positions after SS6:
Pos  Driver                Car            Time/Gap
 1.  Bryan Bouffier        M-Sport Ford   1h25m36.6s
 2.  Kris Meeke            Citroen        +38.8s
 3.  Robert Kubica         M-Sport Ford   +39.5s
 4.  Sebastien Ogier       VW             +47.3s
 5.  Mads Ostberg          Citroen        +1m20.7s
 6.  Elfyn Evans           M-Sport Ford   +1m38.6s
 7.  Jari-Matti Latvala    VW             +2m20.8s
 8.  Mikko Hirvonen        M-Sport Ford   +2m46.9s
 9.  Andreas Mikkelsen     VW             +4m06.2s
10.  Olivier Burri         Burri Ford     +4m47.4s *
* WRC2 spec car

Follow the Monte Carlo Rally as it happens on AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live, back for tomorrow's stages from 7.45am UK time.

This week's AUTOSPORT magazine features a comprehensive Monte Carlo Rally supplement, including a look back at Mini's 1960s success and technical insight into the Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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