GAP, France: Triple world champion Sebastien Ogier delighted his hometown crowd by storming to a commanding lead in the Monte Carlo Rally on Friday (Saturday in Manila), boosting his hopes of a fourth win in the storied race.
The French Volkswagen driver had trailed Citroen’s Kris Meeke overnight after the opening stages driven over treacherous icy surfaces.
But the 32-year-old Ogier, born in Gap where the first round of the world championship is based, grabbed four of the day’s six stages to end the day with a 9.5sec lead over his Northern Irish rival.
Ogier didn’t have an incident-free day, however, suffering a major scare when his Polo clipped a bridge on stage four.
“I came out a little too wide and after I was a little worried,” admitted the French driver.
“I was scared that there may have been some damage so I took my foot off the gas a little.
He added: “I was then a little too cautious on the seventh stage [won by Meeke]but I have to recognise that Kris did a great job. He had a great rhythm all day.
“To make a difference, I had to attack. Nine and a half seconds in the lead, it’s not really that big especially when you consider that tomorrow will be a long day with long stages.”
Ogier’s VW teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen were third and fourth fastest ahead of Saturday’s five stages while the event concludes Sunday with three more runs.