PARIS, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Five-time rally world champion Sebastien Ogier of France looked set to win the 2018 season opener after extending his lead on the third day of the Rallye Monte Carlo on Saturday.
The M-Sport Ford driver opened a 33.5-second lead over Estonian Ott Tanak (Toyota) with Finn Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) in third place almost a minute off the pace after 13 of the 17 stages.
“That means it’s all going to plan. I wanted to be 30 seconds ahead tonight,” said Ogier, who was only eighth in Saturday’s last stage.
“It was very dirty out there, maybe my tyres were not the perfect choice. I was a bit on the limit.”
Ogier joined M-Sport last season after Volkswagen, with whom he won his first four titles, pulled out as part of a strategic shift to help the German carmaker overcome a costly emissions scandal.
Tanak also struggled with the dirt and mud in the 13th stage.
“In the dirty places the tyres were good but in the dry they were overheating a bit,” he said.
“It’s difficult to have the perfect tyre in this stage.” (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)