Loeb keeps healthy lead over Ogier


Sebastien Loeb continues to maintain a comfortable lead over Sebastien Ogier in the Monte Carlo Rally, as Evgeny Novikov flew on Thursday morning's snow-covered stages.

There was little to choose between Loeb's Citroen and Ogier's Volkswagen on the loop. Ogier was quickest on SS5, had a quick spin on SS6, then virtually matched Loeb on SS7.

The gap between them stands at 1m17.9s, with Loeb having built a margin on Wednesday afternoon.

But the fastest man of the morning was Qatar M-Sport Ford driver Novikov. A close second to Ogier on Labatie d'Andaure, Novikov then won the next two stages.

That brought Novikov past Jari-Matti Latvala's VW and Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen, and to within 7.6s of third-placed Citroen driver Dani Sordo.

All the Fords have been rapid in the tough conditions. Juho Hanninen challenged Latvala for sixth before a scare on SS6, while Mads Ostberg is making up time after a penalty for being late into service following electrical problems on Wednesday afternoon.

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