Ogier grabs Monte Carlo lead
Sebastien Ogier underlined his World Championship pedigree by taking the lead on the second day of the Monte Carlo Rally.
The opening day of Ogier's defence of a title he won in dominant fashion last season was a forgettable one as the Frenchman finished fourth overall, 47 seconds behind compatriot Bryan Bouffier.
Ogier, however, showed he meant business on Friday over the opening 47-kilometre stage - the seventh overall of the event - shaving 11 seconds off Bouffier's lead to move up to second in the standings.
When Bouffier spun off on stage nine in his M-Sport Ford, requiring help from spectators to be pushed out of a muddy field, Ogier took full advantage to open up an 11-second cushion in his VW Polo R.
Ogier's hopes of victory were further enhanced as former Formula One star Robert Kubica crashed out in his RK M-Sport Ford Fiesta whilst in fourth place, severely damaging the front end of the car.
Kubica, who won the opening two stages on day one on his factory WRC debut, had simply made it his goal to see Saturday's chequered flag, only to fall short in his quest.
Ogier doubled his advantage over Bouffier with another crushing run on stage 10, before rounding off a near-perfect day on the final stage, the shortest at just under 21km.
Although Ogier finished second to team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala by four seconds, he saw Bouffier make another error as he had to borrow another driver's pace notes after inexplicably missing part of the route on his recce.
That saw Bouffier drop another 28 seconds to Ogier to finish 51 adrift overall heading into the final four stages on day three, albeit with the trickiest of the notorious Turini to come.
Britain's Kris Meeke is in sight of a podium in third in his Citroen, one minute 38 seconds behind Ogier, and he has a 70-second gap to team-mate Mads Ostberg in fourth.
Meeke, however, is wary of what lies ahead.
He said: "You're not on the podium until the finish line.
"We've another tough one tomorrow with the Turini. Something always happens there. We need to make sure it doesn't happen to us."
Latvala's fine run on the final stage means he is up to fifth ahead of Welshmen Elfyn Evans on his full WRC debut in his M-Sport Fiesta, with the duo both over six minutes adrift.