M-Sport driver Sebastien Ogier increased his lead of the Tour de Corse to 41.6 seconds after the Saturday morning loop of his home round of the World Rally Championship.
Ogier edged Thierry Neuville on each of the three stages of the second day of the first dry asphalt rally of the season to build his advantage with five stages remaining.
Neuville – who won in 2017 but conceded defeat to Ogier yesterday – focused on keeping his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC in second place.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke, who came into the day in third position, closed the gap to Neuville to half a second on Saturday’s opening Cagnano – Pino – Canari stage.
However, Meeke struggled on the next two “awful” stages, to fall to 5.2s behind Neuville.
Ott Tanak wasn’t happy after the first stage of the day: “Every time I touched the handbrake it stalled me. [The] notes could have been better as well.”
He recovered to win the final stage of the loop and closed to within 2.1s of Meeke’s third place.
Tanak’s Toyota team-mate Esapekka Lappi also had a strong morning but is stranded in fifth place, 22.4s adrift of Tanak.
M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans lost sixth position to Dani Sordo, after going 4.6s slower than the Hyundai driver on Novella – the final stage of the morning. The duo held identical overall times before the stage.
Jari-Matti Latvala holds eighth for Toyota, but only 3.3s adrift of Evans, while Bryan Bouffier maintains the 10th place overall that he has held since the second stage of the event in the third M-Sport Fiesta.
Nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, returning under Rally 2 rules “just for fun” after his Friday crash, won the opening two stages of the loop.
Jan Kopecky further extended his lead of the WRC2 class to 47.5s ahead of Yoann Bonato in the brand-new Citroen C3 R5. Bonato’s team-mate Stephane Lefebvre crashed out on the first stage of the second day.