WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Ogier takes lead as Loeb damages car

Sebastien Ogier moved into a clear Monte Carlo Rally lead on Friday afternoon after Sebastien Loeb lost six minutes when he damaged his Citroen's suspension

WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Ogier takes lead as Loeb damages car

World Rally Championship returnee Loeb had begun the loop by re-extending his lead over Ogier, who had closed the gap from 28 seconds to just 3s during the two stages before service.

Despite his stud-less tyres seemingly being wrong for a stage that featured unexpected ice levels, a surprised Loeb was quickest on SS6 and inched his advantage back up to 6s.

But on the muddier stages that followed, the momentum was all with Ogier, as Loeb's 14th position in the running order hampered his pace.

Ogier's Volkswagen swept into the rally lead for the first time on SS7, where he outpaced Loeb by 14s to move into an 8s lead, helped by his adversary making a mistake at a hairpin.

Loeb attempted to respond with a charge on the day's final stage, only to hit a rock and break his left rear suspension (pictured below).

He limped the car to the stage finish in 10th overall, though he may yet have to retire from the day and take a 10-minute Rally2 penalty if he cannot fix the problem sufficiently to make it back to service. WRC rules require crews to have four fully-functioning wheels when driving on road sections.

NEWS UPDATE: Loeb has to take Rally2 penalty

Ogier therefore found himself with a 1m45s lead over team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, as VW moved into a commanding one-two-three position.

The final stage was as good for VW as it was bad for Citroen, with Loeb's team-mate Kris Meeke also damaging his suspension.

Meeke had just moved up to fourth prior to his incident, which forced him to retire from the leg.

Andreas Mikkelsen benefited from this and outpacing Ott Tanak to move into third overall and complete the VW formation, although Tanak's M-Sport Ford is just 10s behind him.

Mads Ostberg is now the only frontrunning Citroen in fifth place, ahead of Elfyn Evans, who lost ground through the afternoon with a spin and unsuccessful tyre choices.

After winning two stages in the morning, it was a mixed afternoon for Robert Kubica.

He was fourth quickest on SS6, fastest of all on SS7, then had two incidents on SS8. He required help from spectators to get back on the road following the first, then was left driving on a puncture after sliding into a tree in the second.

All that cost Kubica four minutes, although having lost 10 minutes to electrical problems triggered by an impact on Thursday night, the extra delay made little difference to his rally.

AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live's as-it-happens Monte Carlo Rally coverage resumes from 8am UK time on Saturday.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS8:

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WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Loeb just leads from Ogier as Kubica flies

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