Loeb close to seventh Monte Carlo title
World champion Sebastien Loeb eased closer to a seventh Monte Carlo Rally victory on Friday when he opened a lead of 1min 47sec over fellow-Frenchman Sebastien Ogier.
Nine-time world champion Loeb has led the season-opener since the second stage in his Citroen and with only five stages to be raced in and around Monaco on Saturday, Ogier looks likely to settle for second place in the debut-making Volkswagen.
Loeb is only racing four events in the 2013 championship, but that hasn't dented his competitive edge, which was illustrated by rounding off Friday's action with the fastest time through the closing stage.
With snow and ice again making driving conditions tricky, Loeb, like most of the front-runners, started the day with a combination of winter and asphalt tyres.
"It was the right decision for sure, but the mix is certainly not the most exciting to drive," said the Frenchman.
"But we have to do it because I think it's the best option. Overall I'm very happy with the job we have done today."
1. Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen DS3) 4 h 16:41.9
2. Sebastien Ogier (FRA/Volkswagen Polo-R) at 1:47.4
3. Evgueny Novikov (RUS/Ford Fiesta RS) 3:19.9
4. Dani Sordo (ESP/Citroen DS3) 3:21.6
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Volkswagen Polo-R) 4:04.9
6. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citroen DS3) 4:19.1
7. Juho Hanninen (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) 5:15.5
8. Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 6:18.2
9. Bryan Bouffier (FRA/Citroen DS3) 8:20.7
10. Martin Prokop (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) 18:48.8
Thierry Neuville (BEL/Ford Fiesta RS)
Loeb 7 (SS2 to SS4, SS8, SS10, SS11, SS13)
Ogier 2 (SS1, SS5)
Novikov 2 (SS6, SS7)
Hanninen 1 (SS9)
Ostberg 1 (SS12)
Note: Final five stages will take place on Saturday