WRC - Commanding drive hands Ogier lead heading into final day

Sebastien Ogier goes into the final day of the Monte Carlo Rally with a 51-second lead after a commanding performance on Friday.

WRC - Ogier opens title defence with Monte Carlo triumph

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French driver Sebastien Ogier steers his Volkswagen Polo R during the 10th stage of the 82nd Monte-Carlo Rally (AFP)

Reigning world champion Ogier had languished in ninth place, 1m20s off the lead, three stages into the event following a poor tyre choice in Thursday morning's changeable conditions.

His subsequent recovery charge got him up to fourth by the end of leg one and second halfway through Friday, but closing the 35s gap to leader Bryan Bouffier still looked difficult.

However, a spin for Bouffier's M-Sport Ford on SS9 handed first place to Ogier's Volkswagen.

Ogier's advantage ballooned on the final stage of leg two, where Bouffier had to drive with pace notes borrowed from Francois Delecour having somehow contrived to miss part of the course during the recce.

With Robert Kubica crashing out on Friday afternoon, Citroen is holding secure third and fourth places with Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg.

Ogier's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala raised his pace through Friday and by the end of the day was up to fifth place, having been as low as 19th as he struggled for confidence on leg one.

M-Sport duo Elfyn Evans and Mikko Hirvonen were among those outpaced by Latvala during leg two, despite the VW driver picking up a puncture on SS9.

VW's third driver Andreas Mikkelsen was poised to move into the top six when he lost four minutes with a mistake, leaving him back in eighth.

The rally concludes with four more stages on Saturday afternoon and evening, ending around 10pm local time.

Follow the final day of the Monte Carlo Rally from 1.30pm UK on Saturday on AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live.

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