WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Retirements give Ogier a commanding lead

Sebastien Ogier takes a two-minute lead into the Monte Carlo Rally's final day after Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala retired, while Thierry Neuville is catching Andreas Mikkelsen for second

WRC Monte Carlo Rally: Retirements give Ogier a commanding lead

Meeke was keeping the gap to leader Ogier under half a minute until damaging his Citroen on a rock on SS11.

He made it to the end of the stage, but had to retire at the regroup afterwards due to the effect of the impact on the gearbox.

Latvala - who started the loop in third - hit trouble one stage earlier, going off and damaging his Volkswagen's suspension.

He fell to fifth as he limped to the finish and then tried to repair the car on the road section afterwards.

Despite initially being optimistic, Latvala ultimately ran out of time and withdrew.

VW's third driver Mikkelsen gained from that attrition, but then came under increasing threat from Neuville as the new Hyundai began to show its pace.

More comfortable with the car's handling in icy and snowy conditions than on fully dry roads with slick tyres, Neuville won the day's last two stages.

That burst of pace allowed him to reduce the gap to Mikkelsen from 1m04s to just 12.5s with Sunday's three stages remaining.

Underlining Hyundai's speed, Dani Sordo was third fastest on SS11 and second on SS12 as he closed to within 2.2s of Ott Tanak for seventh following his morning mistake.

Hayden Paddon - running under Rally 2 having crashed on Friday - made it a Hyundai 1-2-3 on SS11 as he split his team-mates' 2016-spec cars. He remains outside the overall top 30 in last year's i20.

Both Tanak and Sordo are set to gain a position before the evening halt as sixth-placed Bryan Bouffier reached the finish of the Sisteron stage with damaged rear suspension on his Ford.

Prior to that, Bouffier had been in a close battle with fellow Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre for fifth place, although the young Citroen driver was inching clear of 2011 Monte winner Bouffier even before his error.

The afternoon's incidents have left Mads Ostberg in a very lonely fourth place for M-Sport.

The team has a commanding WRC2 lead with Elfyn Evans, who is now up to ninth overall.

Autosport Race Centre Live's Monte Carlo Rally coverage resumes from 8am UK time on Sunday

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS13:

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