Sebastien Loeb's dominance of the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally continued as he maintained a comfortable lead of over a minute at the end of today's penultimate leg.

Loeb, who is only contesting four rallies this year and therefore will not defend the title he has won in each of the last nine years, won two of three stages today as his lead built to one minute 47 seconds over Sebastien Ogier.

Volkswagen driver Ogier is happy to play a tactical game with Loeb not a threat in the title race, and is unlikely to take any risks in the snow and ice during tomorrow's final leg.

Citroen driver Loeb will therefore be confident of adding to his tally of 76 career wins when he hits the road for the rally's closing five stages, mechanical failures and accidents permitting.

M-Sport's Evgeny Novikov, who won stages six and seven yesterday, is in third, albeit less than two seconds ahead of the Citroen of Dani Sordo.

VW's Jari-Matti Latvala finished the day in fifth, ahead of the Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen.

Juho Hanninen was in seventh after winning a stage yesterday, while M-Sport team-mate Mads Ostberg, the only man other than Loeb to take a win today after going quickest on stage 12, is in eighth.