MONACO — Defending world rally champion Sebastien Ogier extended his lead despite not winning any of the five stages on the third day of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Saturday.

Ogier considers this rally his favorite, and the Frenchman has won the past four editions. He needs only to safely negotiate Sunday’s last four stages to win it again, and begin his bid for a sixth straight world title in perfect fashion.

The Ford Fiesta driver is 34 seconds ahead of Estonian driver Ott Tanak, having led the Toyota Yaris driver by 15 overnight.

“I wanted to have at least 30 seconds in hand tonight, and that’s what we have,” Ogier said. “We perhaps didn’t make the perfect tire choice for today’s final stage. It was very dirty and we were a bit on the limit.”

Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala, also driving a Yaris, is 1 minute, 33 seconds back in third place.

Although Tanak won stages 10 and 11, he paid for a poor start after losing about one minute to Ogier on S9, the first of the day.

Belgian driver Thierry Neuville — last year’s world rally runner-up — won S12 and S13, but he is way out of contention and sits 5:34 behind Ogier in seventh place.

Norwegian driver Andres Mikkelsen won S9 ahead of Ogier.

Ogier is only the second driver to win five world titles. Countryman Sebastien Loeb won nine straight from 2004-12.

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