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Evans holds on to a slender Monte Carlo Rally lead from Ogier

Sebastien Ogier on his way to winning three of Friday's stages to move a handful of seconds behind leader Elfyn Evans (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE)
Sebastien Ogier on his way to winning three of Friday's stages to move a handful of seconds behind leader Elfyn Evans (OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE)

Elfyn Evans held on to his lead in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Friday but serial winner Sebastien Ogier was lurking only a handful of seconds behind.

Evans, in a Toyota, won both Thursday's opening  night stages.

The Welsh driver was unable to add to that tally on the six stages on the second day of the iconic rally, but held on to a slender advantage at the halfway point.

By end of the day, Ogier had moved to within 4.5seconds of his teammate having ended the first stage of the day 23sec behind.

Ogier, the eight-time world champion who only competes part-time, topped the time sheets in half of the day's specials to help his quest for a 10th title in the Principality.

"We're going to have fun tomorrow (Saturday)" smiled Ogier.

"It was a tricky day," he added.

"The beginning was difficult but we expected that due to our starting position.

"We made up time after that" he said.

Thierry Neuville, who was second overnight, dropped to third, 16sec off Evans, despite claiming the other three stages.

He shed a dozen seconds after a loss of control in his Hyundai at the start of the day.

Former world champion Ott Tanak also lost valuable time,landing his Hyundai in a ditch on the first stage, fans helping him to get his car back on the road.

The Estonian is over a minute off the lead in fourth.

Standings after Friday's six stages

1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) 1hr 25min 28.9sec, 2. Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (FRA/Toyota) at 4.5sec, 3. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) 16.1, 4. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (EST/Hyundai) 1:13.6, 5. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 1:38

Special stage winners

Elfyn Evans (SS1, SS2), Thierry Neuville (SS3, SS6, SS7), Sebastien Ogier (SS4, SS5, SS8)

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