Ott Tänak is currently lying in fourth place at the season-ending WRC Rally Monza in Italy. The reigning world champion would need to pick up maximum points at the race to retain his title.
The race was a late addition to a calendar which saw no fewer than nine events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and comes after a month gap since the last race, also on Italian soil (Rally Sardegna).
The race as its name suggests takes in a part of the legendary banked-angle former Formula One circuit of the same name, but also makes use of nearby mountainous and forested terrain in alpine foothills.
While ever-the-bridesmaid Thierry Neuville of Belgium, Tänak's team mate at Hyundai, got off to a good start on Thursday's two stages, he was forced to drop out on Friday after an accident.
Another from the Hyundai stable, Spaniard Dani Sordo, became race leader at the end of Friday's stages, followed by Finn Esa-Pekka Lappi (M-Sport Ford), and the other two drivers still able to frustrate whatever slim chances Tänak has of getting a back-to-back title – six-time champion Sebastian Ogier (Toyota) and current table leader, Welshman Elfyn Evans (Toyota).
Sordo and Ogier have continued to tussle through Saturday's stages so far, with Ogier ending up ahead of the Hyundai driver, closely followed by Tänak. The Estonian overtook Finnish driver Lappi on Saturday morning.
The race continues through Saturday and Sunday.
Editor: Andrew Whyte