Sebastien Ogier and Kris Meeke remained locked in battle for the Monte Carlo Rally lead on Friday afternoon, with Ogier back in front heading for the overnight break.
The pair swapped the lead two through the three-stage loop.
Ogier, who hit the front on the last morning stage, initially pulled away from the Citroen driver behind, establishing a five-second gap on the Corps - La Salle en Beaumont stage.
But Meeke replied by going 5.8s quicker than his Volkswagen rival on Aspres les Corps - Chauffayer, putting him back in the lead by just eight tenths of a second.
He wouldn't stay there, with Ogier commandingly fastest on the closing run from Les Costes to Chaillol and rebuilding a 9.5s lead.
Meeke put Ogier's turnaround on SS8 down to local knowledge of that particular stage, and was pleased just to still be in the lead fight.
Ogier and Meeke have pulled a long way clear of the rest of the pack.
Jari-Matti Latvala is up to third after VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen lost time with a spin on SS7, but he is 1m08s off the lead.
Mikkelsen held on to fourth, just ahead of Thierry Neuville in the best of the new Hyundais.
The sister car of Dani Sordo is back in seventh behind Mads Ostberg, with both Hyundai drivers unhappy with their tyre choices for the afternoon.
Ostberg's M-Sport team-mate Eric Camilli crashed out of eighth on ice on the first stage after service.
That elevated Citroen young gun Stephane Lefebvre, who retained his place ahead of Bryan Bouffier even after a 20s time penalty for being late onto SS7 after set-up adjustment on a road section over-ran.
Ott Tanak completes the end of day top 10 despite rolling his DMACK Ford through a ditch.
Saturday's itinerary begins with a 32-mile stage just after 8am local time.
Follow Saturday's Monte Carlo Rally stages when Autosport Race Centre Live returns at 7am UK time
LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS8:-
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