Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the Monte Carlo Rally after the penultimate full day, while a second straight stage win for his new Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen brought the Finn closer to Petter Solberg's third place.
This afternoon's action consisted of just the 29-kilometer SS13, after which the field will head down from the World Rally Championship opener's initial base in Valence to Monte Carlo itself, ready for Saturday's afternoon and evening stages, and Sunday's power stage.
Loeb drove relatively conservatively through this afternoon's stage, still stretching his lead just a little to complete the leg with a 2m12.4s advantage over Dani Sordo's Mini in second place.
Sordo's position became even more secure on SS13 when Solberg was slightly delayed by damaging a wheel rim and giving his Ford a puncture a few kilometers from the finish.
Solberg is now 1m09.8s behind Sordo – and only 20.8sec ahead of Hirvonen, who backed up his stage win on this morning's snow and ice affected SS12 with a fastest time in SS13's dry conditions too.
Hirvonen's performance today has also taken him out of reach of Evgeny Novikov. The Russian still holds an impressive fifth place on his Monte Carlo debut, a minute ahead of M-Sport Ford teammate Francois Delecour.
Leading positions after SS13:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h31m25.2s
2. Dani Sordo Mini + 2m12.4s
3. Petter Solberg Ford + 3m22.2s
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 3m43.0s
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 4m28.2s
6. Francois Delecour M-Sport Ford + 6m39.1s
7. Pierre Campana Mini + 7m45.1s
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 8m44.8s
9. P-G Andersson Proton + 13m20.8s
10. Armindo Araujo Araujo Mini + 14m40.7s