Friday. Despite a handling problem that threatened to tt his Ford Fiesta in hairpins, the Frenchman won three of the four stages and built in 33.6sec advantage over Thierry Neuville who lacked confidence in his Hyundai i20.

Ogier’therefore task was simplified when arch rival Sébastien Loeb dropped his Citroën C3 out of second place throughout the 2nd test. Kris Meeke ended third, 5.1sec farther in his Citroën C3 with Ott Tänak fourth, some further 5.5sec adrift after handling issues restricted his Yaris’s progress.

Esapekka Lappi ended Ogier’s hopes of a clean-sweep of point wins by putting the fastest time at the last test of this afternoon. He had been 0.3sec in front of Elfyn Evans. Dani Sordo was seventh, and the final of a trio covered by less than a second.

Ogier stayed on target to win after expanding his cause 44.5sec. The defending champ did not take any point wins but he kept a solid focus as his rivals hit problem.

The ferocious fight for second ended with Tänak snatching the position by a tenth of a minute from Neuville at the last test, as Meeke jumped his Citroën in to retirement after mishearing a speed notice. Only 10.3sec farther behind in fourth was Lappi who got a few of this afternoon’s six phases following aerodynamic and suspension changes shifted his assurance.

Sordo and Evans were matched daily. Sordo ended fifth in his i20, with a 3.1sec cushion over the Welshman. Jari-Matti Latvala murdered his Yaris from eighth after hitting a tree along with Bryan Bouffier sought out with engine problems within his Fiesta.

Ogier eased to his 3rd victory in four rounds by a margin of 36.1sec. Tänak ended second, having distanced Neuville in the marathon 55km opening test and also widened the gap into 31.4sec because Neuville encountered engine issues.

The Belgian strolled throughout the final test and was grateful to carry a huge advantage over teammate Sordo who finished 55.1sec farther behind, but in front of Evans in October.

He plunged to seventh, but salvaged maximum bonus points by winning at the Ability Stage — a feat that he allowed him to overhaul Andreas Mikkelsen and scale to sixth.

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