Motor Racing: Makinen overhauls McRaeColin McRae's lead of the Monte Carlo Rally was finally obliterated by Tommi Makinen.
The fired-up Finn, 30 seconds adrift at the start of the day, powered into a lead of five seconds on the third of the five special stages.
McRae, bidding to become the first British winner of the event since Vic Elford in 1968, had no answer to his rival's blistering pace in the French Alps.
Makinen made light of the icy conditions to set the fastest time on the first two stages and second quickest on the third to put himself on course to complete a hat-trick of victories in the event.
The Mitsubishi driver is clearly determined to get his season off to a cracking start as he attempts to regain the world title he relinquished last season after a four-year reign.
McRae earlier admitted he had been too cautious - particularly on the second stage between Sisteron and Thoard which is the longest and most famous in the event - and it had cost him the advantage.
The 32-year-old Scot, who took over at the top in the fourth of Friday's six timed sections, will have to tackle the feared 21-mile long test again later in the day.
But McRae's second place looks secure with Ford Focus team-mate Carlos Sainz almost 50 seconds adrift in third place and unable to peg back the deficit.
Frenchman Francois Delecour is fourth, almost a minute further adrift, on his debut in the Focus, after setting the fastest time on the stage by just 0.1sec from Makinen.
McRae's younger brother, Alister, will also be looking for a points scoring finish having moved into sixth place for Hyundai behind the Skoda of Germany's Armin Schwarz.