There was a huge change after the SS14 stage when Thierry Neuville retired on the road section with a broken right rear damper.
Neuville’s demise handed the lead to Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta. It’s the Yaris driver’s first time leading a WRC event.
Elfyn Evans was quickest on the Hell’s Gate test, but all eyes were on the times of Ogier and Katsuta.
Ogier edged another 3.8 seconds out of his teammate and is just 0.8 seconds back from the lead with three stages still left to run.
SS15 is now complete as the rally drivers now head to SS16, Malewa, which gets going at 10.45 am.
Quotes from top drivers
5.4 seconds off the leading pace in the stage, but he stays ahead in the overall standings by just 0.8sec.
This is his first-ever time leading a WRC rally.
“It’s a surprise, but it’s still three stages and anything can happen in this rally. I have to be very focused. Even at this stage, I didn’t push at all, but there were so many rocks on the road. These kinds of things can easily happen.”
He’ll be eager to move ahead of Katsuta and take the rally lead as soon as possible. Third so far, in very loose conditions.
“That was the plan today, to try and fight for second place – now that Thierry is out, it’s a fight for the victory. In this stage, really bad conditions.”
The Estonian finds himself in third with just three stages to go. 1.0sec down on Evans’ time here, but he feels for Thierry Neuville.
“It’s not good!”
Third on this test, and only 0.1 seconds down on colleague Fourmaux. Gus is now up to fourth following Neuville’s retirement.
“It’s hard to put into words this rally. One minute it’s fine, the next it’s going end over end – metaphorically.”
Another stage complete for the Fiesta man, and he’s chasing down team-mate Gus Greensmith at the moment.
“There is a lot of sweeping. You can feel in the straight part it is difficult for the car to go.”