Monte Carlo Rally 2012 - Day Two

With almost two-thirds of the rally's competitive distance completed, it is difficult to see how Sébastien Loeb can be prevented from claiming the sixth Rallye Monte-Carlo success of his career. "My car is perfect and the feeling is good," he commented calmly after the second visit to Saint Bonnet, probably the second leg's biggest challenge. Another fastest time on SS10 allowed the eight-time world champion to end his working day with a comfortable margin at the top of the order. "I tried to push, as we don't know what will happen tomorrow. We try to increase our lead for now."

Much of today's interest has focused on the scrap for the two remaining podium places. A fastest time for Mini's Dani Sordo on SS8 and the second-best effort on SS10 has given him the edge, but there are less than four seconds between the Spaniard and Ford survivor Petter Solberg on this evening's provisional leaderboard. "I am doing my best to keep my driving style as clean as possible, and I will try to continue like that," said Sordo at the end of today's final test.

Hopefully, the pair will continue to keep us entertained on the two awesome stages that await them in the Vercors Mountains when the competition resumes on Friday morning.

Citroën newcomer Mikko Hirvonen had another average day and follows in fourth spot, almost four minutes adrift of his team-mate, hoping to pick up a podium finish should one of the battling chargers ahead of him hit trouble, an ideal result for his new team. However, the best-placed privateer Evgeny Novikov (Ford-Michelin), is only 11 seconds behind.

Perhaps not surprisingly given today's clearer conditions, the S2000 class leader Sébastien Ogier fell back from overnight fourth overall to sixth place. The Frenchman, who has made an emphatic marking to celebrate his debut as a factory Volkswagen Motorsport driver in the team's Skoda Fabia 'muletta', was generally pleased with his run today - until he crashed out at high speed on SS10!

Three classic Monte stages feature on Friday's menu, St Jean en Royans, Cimetière de Vassieux and Montauban-Eygalayes, before crews arrive in the Principality at about 8pm.

19th January, 2012