Sebastien Ogier was left to cruise out front in Rally Monte Carlo after his closest rival Kris Meeke had to withdraw with a broken gearbox in the afternoon of Day 3.
The Briton set the pace in the first afternoon test but his car’s undertray was damaged in the subsequent run, with the gearbox failing as a result and forcing the Citroen driver into retirement.
Jari-Matti Latvala, who had been running as best of the rest behind Ogier and Meeke, also exited the rally during the loop.
Despite dipping a wheel into a ditch in SS11 and damaging his suspension, the Finn managed to fix up his car - but failed to make it to the start of the next stage in time and had to call it a day.
Given there is no Rally 2 service before the final leg, neither Meeke, nor Latvala will continue the rally on Sunday.
The day’s final two tests were dominated by Thierry Neuville and Hyundai, the Belgian taking advantage of the team’s correct choice of winter tyres to give the new i20 its first two stage wins.
As a result, Neuville is now only 12.5s behind Andreas Mikkelsen as the duo are set to battle it out for second tomorrow.
Thanks to the two retirements, M-Sport’s Mads Ostberg and the remaining Citroen of Stephane Lefebvre moved into fourth and fifth respectively, Bryan Bouffier dropping out of sixth with broken suspension.
That promoted Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo moved up to sixth and seventh, split by less two seconds, with WRC2 leader Elfyn Evans in eighth.
Standings after SS13:
|Pos.||Driver / Co-Driver||Car||Time/Delay|
Thierry NeuvilleNicolas Gilsoul