Thierry Neuville's crash on the final stage of the penultimate day of Rally Monte Carlo has handed Sebastien Ogier control of the event.
Neuville had led from the outset of the rally and had opened up a lead of over a minute in his Hyundai before the Belgian clipped a bank and damaged his i20 to the point where he dropped 30 minutes and blew any chance of a stunning maiden win at Monte Carlo.
"It was quite a slow left corner and on the exit the rear went wide and I hit something. I don't know what," Neuville said.
Instead Ogier, the four-time reigning world champion, will need to clear the four remaining stages tonight to claim another season-opening win but this time in the M-Sport Ford.
His teammate Ott Tanak holds down a comfortable second place and barring any late drama should be able to ensure a one-two finish for the British outfit.
Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala is third in the team's return after a 17-year absence from the World Rally Championship over two minutes behind rally leader Ogier.
Citroen driver Craig Breen, in last year's older model car, lies fourth in a solid drive - moving up a spot late in the day when Hyundai's Dani Sordo suffered problems.
Ogier felt sorry for Neuville, who deserved better.
"Thierry has driven a great rally, with fantastic speed. To drive the whole of Monte-Carlo in these conditions at that speed is a hard challenge. Monte-Carlo is a rally where you need luck. I wished him no bad luck, he did a great job," said Ogier.
Four special stages remain tonight, including two passes through the iconic Col de Turini stage as well as the power stage, which sees the fastest five drivers pick-up championship bonus points.
1. Sebastien Ogier (Ford)
2. Ott Tanak (Ford) +47.1s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) +2:20.6s
4. Craig Breen (Citroen) +3:47.3s
5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +4:03.2s