Gap - World champion Sebastien Ogier, driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta, held on to first place in Saturday's racing at the Monte Carlo Rally with a 33.5sec lead over Estonia's Ott Tanak in a Toyota Yaris.
Tanak did gain half a second on the Frenchman, who has led since the opening stage. With one day left, Finn Jari-Matti Latvala, also in a Toyota, completes the top three, 1min 32.7sec back.
Spaniard Dani Sordo, who was third, crashed out of the race after his Hyundai spun off the icy road.
in the first of the day's five stages.
Ogier vowed to drive faster and win more this season after clinching just two rally wins last season, but the patience that saw him retain the world title was again on show Saturday.
"Ott was closing on us little by little but in these (wintery) conditions it's hard to manage a lead," said Ogier.
"It's just not my style to take needless risks. Tonight the result is positive, although 'Ott' will fight to the end.
On Thursday night Belgian Thierry Neuville lost four minutes after getting stuck in a snowbank.
Renault's Formula One driver Carlos Sainz Jr will open the route Sunday at the wheel of the course car which checks for safety.
The 23-year-old is maintaining a family tradition as his father Carlos Sainz won at Monte Carlo in his WRC days.
The race finishes outside the Palace in Monaco Sunday evening, with monarch Prince Albert presenting the prizes.
Standings after third day:
1. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 3h 30min 30.9sec, 2. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) at 33.5, 3. Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 01:32.7, 4. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 04:38.5, 5. Kris Meeke-Paul Nagle (GBR-IRL/Citron C3) 04:40.1, 6. Elfyn Evans-Daniel Barritt (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 05:00.2, 7. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 05:33.6, 8. Bryan Bouffier-Xavier Panseri (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 05:43.4, 9. Craig Breen-Scott Martin (IRL-GBR/Citroen C3) 08:49.0, 10. Jan Kopecky-Pavel Dresler (CZE/Skoda Fabia R5) 14:04.4
Stage winners: Ogier 3 (SS1, SS2, SS4), Tanak 4 (SS3, SS6, SS10, SS11), Evans 2 (SS5, SS7), Neuville 3 (SS8, SS12, SS13), Mikkelsen 1 (SS9)