Elfyn Evans snatched back the lead of the Monte Carlo rally from his Toyota World Rally Championship team-mate Sebastien Ogier after a strong Saturday morning loop.
Ogier started the morning with a 1.2-second lead over his team-mate, and extended it by 1.6s on the opening SS9 stage, but Evans fought back on the La Breole-Slonnet test to win the stage by 7.6s and take the lead of the rally by 4.8s.
Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville remains third, having won the St-Leger Les Melezes – La Batie Neuve test, but the 2019 WRC runner-up lost 14 seconds on the morning’s second stage, and is 11.8s behind Ogier.
Sebastien Loeb had a tricky morning in his Hyundai i20, losing time to the leaders on the first two stages of the morning loop, and the nine-time champion admitted that he had “slowed down too much” after trying to save his tyres on SS10.
His cautious approach meant he ended the stage 20s off the pace and is now 1m39.6s behind rally leader Evans.
M-Sport’s Esapekka Lappi ended the morning in fifth, but was unhappy that there was not as much ice on the road as his pacenotes had suggested. Despite that, he still extended his advantage over Kalle Rovenpera in sixth to 19.5s.
The first of the WRC3 runners was next up, with Eric Camilli moving up to seventh place in his Citroen C3, and Toyota driver Takamoto Katsuta dropping down to eighth.
Katsuta spun his Yaris WRC in the middle of St Leger Les Melezes – La Batie Neuve stage, costing him just over three and a half minutes as he stopped to clear snow from his radiator before continuing to finish.
Citroen C3 driver Nicolas Ciamin is second in the WRC3 class, and ninth overall, ending the morning 19.6s ahead of WRC2 leader Mads Ostberg, who rounded out the top 10.
Leading positions after SS10
|1||Elfyn Evans, S.Martin||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||2h06m38.3s|
|2||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||4.8s|
|3||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||16.6s|
|4||Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m56.2s|
|5||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||2m31.4s|
|6||Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||2m59.3s|
|7||Eric Camilli, F-X.Buresi||Eric Camilli||Citroen||9m10.2s|
|8||Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||9m49.7s|
|9||Nicolas Ciamin, Y.Roche||Nicolas Ciamin||Citroen||10m32.4s|
|10||Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen||PH Sport||Citroen||10m52.0s|