GAP, France: Five-time world champion Sebastien Ogier survived a spin into a ditch as well as illness to maintain his lead in the season-opening Rally of Monte Carlo on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
The French driver, behind the wheel of an M-Sport Ford, had led by almost 34 seconds going into the day’s penultimate stage.
But a spin, his second of the race after a similar error on Thursday night, saw his overall advantage cut to 14.9 sec.
Ogier, 34, leads from former teammate Ott Tanak, in a Toyota, with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo filling out the top three even though the Spaniard is 59.7 sec off the lead.
Ogier, who said he was suffering a “little illness” and “fatigue” admitted he had only himself to blame for the mistake.
“It was a stupid error,” said the world champion. “Without that, we would have had a comfortable advantage this evening.
“We will have to be very good tomorrow because we have just a lead of under 15 seconds and this is nothing great.
“It’s not the moment to take risks but we will have to drive better than we did this afternoon.”
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, placed second overnight, was forced to pull out after his Hyundai broke down at the start of stage four on Friday.
Thierry Neuville, last season’s world championship runner-up who lost over four minutes on Thursday night when his Hyundai hit a snow bank, was ninth at the end of the day.