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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Rnd 11 Rally de France Oct 3-6

The route kicks off on Thursday with a lengthened stage in Strasbourg itself, which ends near the city’s European Parliament. For the first time a rally’s opening test will also form the Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers.

Legs 2 and 3 have been switched compared to 2012, with Friday’s action in the Bas-Rhin region and Saturday venturing into the Haut-Rhin, with the town of Colmar again the hub.

What remains unaltered is the last of the 20 stages covering 312.14km which runs through the streets of Haguenau.

Official Website: rallyedefrance.com/en/

Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Sordo fastest at France shakedown

Dani Sordo has gone fastest in shakedown for Rallye de France - Alsace, round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

At the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC, Sordo set a fastest time of 2m36.5s through the 3.8-kilometre Parc des Sports-Hautepierre stage this morning.

In dry and sunny conditions, he was 1.5s faster than Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville who tied second quickest with Mikko Hirvonen in a Citroen DS3.

Sordo, who secured his maiden WRC win on the all-asphalt Rallye Deutschland in August, returned to the Citroen service area in high spirits. “I’m feeling very, very good and happy to have set the fastest time,” he told wrc.com.

“The car is feeling good and maybe the confidence that comes with winning a rally is helping. It will give me a boost, but of course it’s not everything. I think road position is going to be important here.

“We’re fifth on the road, and there is a possibility of rain so it will be muddy and slippery but there’s nothing I can do about that. We’ll just do our best,” added Sordo, who was also fastest on the Rallye de France shakedown in 2012, when he drove a Mini JCW.

Neuville, who was Sordo’s closest challenger in Germany, warned against reading too much into the shakedown times. “It’s not very representative of the rally roads, but the car did feel good,” he said.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth quickest, with outgoing World Champion Sebastien Loeb tying fifth fastest with his likely successor Sebastien Ogier.

Ogier, who can secure the 2013 WRC drivers’ crown this week, had a scare approaching the first left-hand corner of his first run when a sunken metal bollard began to rise automatically to block the road. Luckily, Ogier heeded spectator warnings and stopped in time. “It’s a good job I was flagged down because if I had hit it my weekend would have been over,” he told wrc.com.

It’s the second time that Ogier has found his way blocked this season. In Mexico his co-driver Julien Ingrassia had to get out and open a gate that had swung shut across the stage. “This time Julien could not open it,” quipped Ogier.

After this morning’s prelude, the real competitive action begins this afternoon. The opening test, the Strasbourg Power Stage, begins at 1600hrs and could decide this year’s WRC drivers’ championship.

Here are the shakedown times of the leading WRC crews. (+ times relative to Sordo’s):

1. Dani Sordo: 2min 36.5sec
2. Thierry Neuville: +1.5s
3. Mikko Hirvonen: +1.5s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala: +2.5s
5. Sebastien Loeb: +2.9s
6. Sebastien Ogier: +2.9s
7. Andreas Mikkelsen: +3.1s
8. Evgeny Novikov: +3.4s
9. Mads Ostberg: +4.1s
10. Romain Dumas: +5.9s
11. Tomas Kostka: +6.5s
12. Martin Prokop: +7.1s

click: wrc.com/news/19148


A round-up of the stories that are making the news in the WRC today:

To commemorate Sebastien Loeb’s final WRC appearance, his Citroen team has designed a special livery for his DS3. The car (pictured) is mostly black with key statistics, including his number of world titles, rally wins, stage victories and WRC points, emblazoned in gold on the side.

Rallye de France-Alsace organisers have made special efforts to reduce the amount of mud and gravel dragged onto the asphalt stages by drivers cutting corners. The inside of many bends are lined by a series of heavy bollards to keep cars on the asphalt and prevent drivers shaving tenths of a second from their time by cutting.

Conditions become increasingly slippery for drivers lower down the start order as dirt accumulates on the driving line and Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville welcomed the move. “Road position will be important but less so than in other years. The organisers have done a good job in the cuts by putting barriers to stop us taking cuts and dragging mud onto the road.

Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking career – in video. As he prepares to make his last appearance in a WRC rally, we’ve put together a video review of Loeb’s rallying career. From his earliest Junior championship events, right up to his ninth title celebrations, we’ve done our best to squeeze 78 wins into 4min 31sec. Watch it here

Belgium’s Thierry Neuville has vowed to do everything possible to ensure the WRC drivers’ title is not decided on tonight’s Rally de France – Alsace Power Stage. Neuville is the only driver with a chance of beating Sebastien Ogier to this year’s title, but anything less than victory on tonight’s opener will guarantee the Frenchman the crown.

“I think everybody knows Sebastien will be world champion this year. For me there’s no question. But I don’t want to deliver it to him on a plate, so I’m going to definitely try to take the maximum points tonight. Everybody is asking, ‘are you going to slow down?’ But I’m thinking about my championship as well. Of course I think he deserves the title, he’s done very well, but it shouldn’t be too easy for him…,” he said.

click: wrc.com/news/19149


SS1: Sordo’s stage win seals Ogier’s title!

Sebastien Ogier has secured the 2013 FIA WRC drivers’ title after Dani Sordo went fastest through tonight’s opening stage of Rallye de France – Alsace.

The 4.55km test through the streets of Strasbourg was always likely to prove decisive because as the nominated Power Stage it offered three bonus points to the winner.

Thierry Neuville, the only man with a chance of catching Ogier’s championship lead, needed all three points to stay in the fight. So when his time was confirmed as 0.7sec slower than Sordo’s, Ogier was home and dry, no matter what happens on this or the two rallies that remain this year.

“I’m so happy!” said a delighted Ogier at the finish control. “Before the stage I was a bit confused about whether it would happen, but we’re here and we managed to do it!”

“Eight year’s we’ve worked for this!” added his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.

The pair climbed onto the roof of their Polo R in celebration, cheered on by crowds of fans and Volkswagen management including rally team boss Jost Capito. Outgoing world champion Sebastien Loeb, who followed Ogier through the stage, was quick to offer his own congratulations.

Citroen DS3 WRC driver Sordo now leads the rally from Neuville, with Ogier third, 0.1sec further back. It was another great performance from Sordo, who won the last all-asphalt round in Germany and who was fastest on this morning’s shakedown.

“I have a really good feeling in the car at the moment,” said the Spaniard. “The roads here are really nice and of course I want to repeat my win. For me this rally is more important than Germany. I want to be in the fight!”

With only the slimmest of chances to stop Ogier, Neuville remained upbeat. “We knew already that we couldn’t really win, so it doesn’t change anything,” he said.

What’s important is that we were quicker here than Jari-Matti Latvala and I hope to get one or two more points this weekend. Can I win? I don’t know, we will try, but we want second the in the championship more, so points are the priority.”

Mikko Hirvonen holds fourth overnight, with Andreas Mikkelsen fifth and Latvala sixth. Sebastien Loeb is seventh, 2.9sec off the lead, the Frenchman admitting that he needs time to get reacquainted with his DSC WRC.

Friday’s action, in the countryside around Strasbourg, begins with the 10.66 kilometre Klevener test at 09:18hrs local time.

click: wrc.com/news/france ss1


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
SS2: Loeb lays down marker

Sebastien Ogier may have secured his maiden world title last night, but the old master, Sebastien Loeb, cautioned everyone not to write him off by winning this morning’s opening Klevener test in his Citroen DS3.

Despite starting seventh on the road, conditions were still clean for Loeb. The nine-time world champion, driving his final rally, was quickest by nine-tenths of a second from the similar car of Dani Sordo to climb to third overall.

“A good start,” summarised the Frenchman, who is competing for the first time since Rally Argentina in early May. “I tried to push very hard and the feeling was good. It was dry and not a difficult stage. I hope I can continue safely like this.”

Sordo, the winner on asphalt in Germany in August, looked focused at the stop line. The Spaniard made it quite clear he felt he could claim a second victory in France this weekend and after winning last night’s opening test, he leads by 1.1sec.

Just two-tenths of a second further back was the Volkswagen Polo R of Jari-Matti Latvala, the Finn happy with his performance. “There were a couple of places where I thought there might be dirt on the road, but it was pretty clean so I don’t think the boys ahead have been cutting too much,” he said.

What of the new champion? Ogier was fourth in his Polo R, the Frenchman unsurprisingly admitting it was a bit of a struggle after last night’s excitement. “It was OK but I had to motivate myself. I didn’t get too much sleep. It wasn’t too late, but I took a long time to get to sleep,” he smiled.

Andreas Mikkelsen was fifth, 2.4sec behind Loeb. The Norwegian admitted his Polo R had taken ‘quite a bump’ at a compression midway through the test.

A content Thierry Neuville rounded off the top six in his Ford Fiesta RS. “I can be happy with that. I had one small slide where I lost a bit of time. I braked later than Seb everywhere but……,” admitted the Belgian who followed Ogier off the startline.

Mikko Hirvonen was unhappy with eighth in his DS3, 7.2sec off the pace, the Finn complaining his car felt too soft. Mads Ostberg was 10.2sec behind Loeb in his Fiesta RS, the Norwegian explaining he had to be cautious.

“I have a soft tyre on the rear and it was very slippery in some corners. I had to be careful, I couldn’t push the way I wanted to,” said Ostberg, who is wearing glasses for the first time.

“I had a laser operation about four years ago but I tested my eyes recently and they were slightly off. They have been more and more out lately, so I need to correct them with glasses,” he explained.

click: wrc.com/news/ss2


SS3: Loeb fastest

Sebastien Loeb was fastest again through Friday’s second stage, as the heavens opened – for some of the competitors at least.

Rain was the major talking point at the stage end, with the first drivers through reporting the odd spot, but cars fifth and below in the start order experiencing far more.

The rain was a surprise for most, and the Citroen and Volkswagen works team cars were shod with Michelin hard compound tyres best suited to dry roads. Only Ford Fiesta RS drivers Ostberg and Neuville had hedged their bets with a mixed two hard / two soft set-up.

But despite the less than ideal rubber, and plenty of rain for his pass, Loeb reached the finished control 1.4sec quicker than his closest rival Thierry Neuville.

“At the moment it’s going well,” said Loeb, who moved up to second overall. "We were not so confident when we started but finally we have two fastest times. Okay, there’s a long way to go and now we have rain so it starts to get a bit slippery. We have hard compound tyres so it will be difficult.”

In contrast, Fiesta pilot Neuville was second to tackle the stage, and on his mixed tyre option was disappointed to have had a dry run. “There was no water, I hope there is some in the next one,” he said. “We pushed hard in there but it wasn’t too comfortable. I think we can find a better setting for the car.”

Rally leader Dani Sordo was third quickest, and one of the last to miss the showers. “It was okay, just a little bit tricky under the trees where the surface was a little damp and it was hard to see exactly where the wet sections were.”

Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest Volkswagen driver, fourth quickest and two seconds slower than Loeb. “I think my time was okay,” he said. “It was a clean run, and not too far off Neuville, but this stage has always been difficult for me. There are lots of narrow places and changes of rhythm. The road is often dirty so that’s why I take it a bit more carefully.”

Sebastien Ogier rounded off the top five times, the Frenchman taking his time to settle in to the conditions. “It’s a really long rally and this one was not easy,” he explained. “Especially at the end, where there was a little dampness in the wooded section.”

click: wrc.com/news/ss3


SS4: Hat-trick for Loeb

Tyres were the subject of much debate before crews left the Strasbourg service park earlier and the major talking point as they completed the final stage of the loop.

Rain an hour before the start meant conditions were 70 per cent damp when the action got underway. All the Volkswagen and Citroen drivers had hard compound, dry weather Michelin rubber bolted on which was far from ideal for the early starters.

But as the roads dried, hard tyres became less of a disadvantage and Sebastien Loeb, seventh in the start order, mastered the conditions best of all to claim a clean sweep of stage wins this morning and move into the lead.

He was fastest by nine-tenths of a second in his Citroen DS3 from a tying Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville. He heads the Finn’s Volkswagen Polo R by 3.7sec as crews returned to Strasbourg for service and more tyre discussions.

“It was damp in places, tricky and difficult, so I tried to keep the temperature in my tyres and be careful in muddy places,” said the experienced Frenchman.

Having tested in the wet, Latvala flourished when it came to putting what he had learned into practice. “I tested in the damp and had a lot of confidence. I was the only one from our team to test in these conditions,” he revealed.

Latvala dueled with Neuville, whose Fiesta RS was fitted with two soft and two hard tyres. “Thierry was six seconds ahead at the beginning and we were up and down with every split. When it was dry I was catching him, and when it was wet he was catching me,” said Latvala.

Neuville climbed to third overall, just 4.7sec behind Loeb, but regretted not attacking more. “I had a good tyre choice but didn’t push too much. At the end I should have pushed more in the dry sections,” he admitted.

Dani Sordo was fourth, 6.4sec behind Loeb and the Spanish DS3 pilot slipped from first to fourth in the standings, although he trails Loeb by only 6.2sec. “The time wasn’t good. It was difficult to keep the car on the road,” he said.

Ogier, first in the start order, suffered most on hard rubber. He dropped more than 20sec to Loeb and is now fifth. “I didn’t want to push when I do not feel it,” he said.

Mikko Hirvonen lost 30sec with a spin in his DS3. “I had to reverse. I should have been softer in the set-up because it felt like no grip at all,” said the dejected Finn.


After just four stages Robert Kubica has a lead of more than three minutes. The Citroen DS3 RRC driver has won all the stages and romped ahead on SS3 when closest challengers Elfyn Evans and Robert Barrable hit trouble.

Barrable was first to go, the Irishman retiring his Fiesta R5 in a ditch after clipping a kerb and breaking its steering. Evans, meanwhile, had to stop to change a puncture. Rashid Al Ketbi is second in a Fiesta RRC with Evans third, 3m13.7sec off the lead.


Quentin Gilbert leads the two-wheel drive WRC 3 category. The Frenchman, third in the title standings, overturned championship leader Sebastien Chardonnet’s early lead with a win on SS3, then took another on SS4 to stretch his advantage to 12.7sec. Keith Cronin, the only other driver in contention for the title, is third, 1m 05.9s behind Gilbert. All three are driving Citroen DS3 R3T cars.

click: wrc.com/news/ss4


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
SS5: Confident Neuville on a charge

Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville was the star of the stage. The Belgian rocketed through in the fastest time, his first stage win of the rally, to move ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and into second overall.

The rain had cleared since the earlier pass, but cloudy skies suggested more would arrive at any moment. With showers a possibility, most drivers left the preceding service with a mixed selection of hard and soft compound tyres fitted to their cars, or carried as spares.

A super confident Neuville arrived at the finish control convinced that his choice of four hard compound Michelins had been the right one. “I was absolutely flat out everywhere, it was a good choice,” he said. “I felt comfortable, and I hope it’s enough for the fastest time.”

It was. His closest challenger was Dani Sordo, who had elected to fit a mixture of hard and soft compound rubber on his Citroen DS3 but was similarly happy with his choice. Sordo too moved up the leaderboard, and into third.

For Latvala, however, a mixture of two hard compounds and two softs wasn’t ideal for his Polo R, and he slipped to fourth. “It worked okay, but I’d say the stage was 95 per cent dry, more than I had expected, and on the soft tyres the car was moving about a bit,” he said.

Rally leader Sebastien Loeb was fourth quickest, and told a similar story. “I pushed, but we struggled on the tyres,” he said. “With hards on the front and softs at the rear it’s not possible to do much better than that”

Sebastien Ogier was fifth fastest, and still dissatisfied with his performance. “I tried but it wasn’t the perfect drive,” he said. “We made no changes to the car in service. I still need to wake up.”

click: wrc.com/news/ss5


SS6: Neuville ousts Loeb from lead

Thierry Neuville claimed his second consecutive stage win of the afternoon to replace Sebastien Loeb at the top of the Rallye de France-Alsace leaderboard. The Belgian was 4.6sec faster than his French rival and now leads him by 2.6sec.

The roads were dry everywhere, aside from a few short sections under the trees, and Neuville capitalised on the hard tyres fitted to his Ford Fiesta RS to complete the test 1.9sec faster than Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R.

“We have good weather information from our gravel crew which I’m impressed with. I made a good tyre choice and I’m pushing,” he explained.

Latvala remains fourth overall, but the Finn was quite happy at just 4.1sec from the lead. “I expected to be between third and fifth, but I didn’t expect to be so close to the top. It’s a bit more demanding with the tyre choice this afternoon. It’s very dirty at junctions and I’m not so good at those stages, I’m better on flowing roads,” he said.

Third fastest and third overall was Dani Sordo, the Spaniard 2.0sec behind Neuville in the test and 3.7sec behind overall. Sordo was wrestling with whether to use hard or soft rubber and said: “It was slippery at the end but we didn’t lose too much time.”

Sebastien Ogier was fourth in his Polo R, and admitted he was struggling to find top form. “You can’t always be at your best all of the time. I’m trying harder this afternoon. The feeling isn’t so bad and I’m doing a bit better,” said the Frenchman.

Loeb was unperturbed by losing the lead. With soft rubber fitted to his Citroen DS3, the local hero explained: “The tyre choice was more for the last stage because we think it might rain. We have lost a bit of time and the lead but the rally is long.”

Evgeny Novikov rounded off the top six times in his Fiesta RS, pulling further clear of Mikko Hirvonen on the leaderboard. “I prefer the dry roads. When it’s slippery I’m not on the case at all, but I can always try to improve,” said Hirvonen.



SS7: Shrewd Neuville in front after day one

Belgium's Thierry Neuville is the surprise leader of Rallye de France - Alsace after a complex opening day that rewarded accurate weather forecasting and shrewd tyre choices.

Neuville, who drives a Ford Fiesta RS, got the package just about right, and was fastest on three of Friday’s six asphalt stages to return to the Service Park in Strasbourg with a lead of 9.8sec over Citroen’s Dani Sordo. Volkswagen Polo R pilot Jari-Matti Latvala is third, just 1.9sec further back.

Neuville’s day started well, with an inspired tyre choice for the opening loop of three stages.

While the majority of the WRC runners chose Michelin’s hard compound tyres, Neuville gambled on a mixture of hards and softs. When rain made things damp on the day’s second test, he benefitted from the extra grip of the soft rubber.

His Qatar M-Sport squad got it right again in the afternoon. This time Neuville’s car was shod with hard compound tyres, while his rivals, who were expecting rain, biased their choices towards the soft. The rain held off, and Neuville was untouchable.

“I’m really happy with how the day has gone,” said Neuville, who was second at Rallye Deutschland, the championship’s most recent all-asphalt round. “We had the best information, our weather guy did a good job, and we made good tyre choices. I felt comfortable at the wheel so I was able to push quite hard.”

On his WRC swansong, Sebastien Loeb held the lead for much of the day. The Frenchman’s legendary sense of grip kept him out front throughout the morning, even though he faced more rain than most on SS3.

In the afternoon, however, Loeb gambled on soft tyres. And when the rain he hoped for never materialised, he lost ground to Neuville – almost ten seconds on the last stage alone.

“We counted on the rain and there was no rain,” Loeb shrugged. “We had the soft tyre and on the long stages it was very difficult. Neuville was fast. For sure we couldn’t match his speed. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.” Loeb ended the day fourth, 12.2sec off the lead.

Power Stage winner Dani Sordo snatched second from Loeb on Friday’s final test. Reinvigorated by his recent victory in Germany, Sordo has been in sparkling form and a top-three stage finisher on all but one of the tests so far.

Volkwagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala is third, just 1.9sec adrift of Sordo. The Finn has had a trouble-free day, and felt his wet pre-event test had helped him in the rain on SS3. However that advantage was countered by a set-up mistake in the afternoon.

“I’m disappointed with my performance on the long stage,” he admitted. “I stayed soft with the car set-up and it was wrong. I should have gone stiffer. My mistake, I stayed with a soft car and that was not a good idea.”

click: wrc.com/news/shrewd-neuville-in-front-after-day-one/


527 Posts
I keep reading about the fabulous live TV at Rallye France being seen in 100 countries on 18 networks. Anybody found where we can watch in North America?

1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
SS8: Ogier back in the driving seat

Newly crowned world champion Sebastien Ogier bounced back from a lacklustre day yesterday to win a foggy and wet opening stage of today’s second leg.

The Frenchman admitted he was not at his best yesterday at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R but came out in determined mood this morning, eager to improve on fifth overall.

He was 1.5sec quicker than leader Thierry Neuville and said: “We have to push and take risks but there was some fog at the top. The feeling is better with the car. It will be hard to catch Thierry but we’ll fight and maybe we can get a place on the podium.”

Several drivers reported that many of the heavyweight poles positioned on the inside of corners to prevent drivers cutting had been moved since the recce earlier in the week.

“There were more cuts than I expected,” admitted Neuville. “I don’t know if the spectators or organisers have moved the poles but we had to change our pace notes. Of course, we took all the cuts to pull the mud onto the road,” smiled the Belgian from inside his Ford Fiesta RS, now enjoying a 15.0sec lead.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third in his Polo R, closing the gap to Dani Sordo in second overall to just three-tenths of a second. “I lost everything in the first two splits. There was a delay at the start and I wasn’t confident we had heat in the tyres when I set off. Once they warmed up it was OK,” said the Finn.

Sordo was fifth in a Citroen DS3, the Spaniard admitting the fog cost him time. “It will be difficult to catch Thierry but we’re not even in the middle of the rally yet,” said Sordo.

Sandwiched in between them in the stage was Sebastien Loeb, 6.0sec slower than Ogier. “There was a lot of understeer in the fast sections and I didn’t trust the car. They are difficult conditions,” said Loeb. Asked if he could catch leader Neuville, the retiring nine-time world champion said: “At the moment, no.”

click: wrc.com/news/ss8


SS9: Spin costs Loeb fourth place

Sebastien Loeb slipped from fourth to fifth place after a mid stage spin meant he swapped positions with his rival Sebastien Ogier.

In wet and foggy conditions, Loeb completed the stage with his Citroen DS3 undamaged, but now trailing Ogier by one-tenth of a second.

“I spun in a little hairpin and had to reverse two times, it cost me about 10 seconds,” Loeb explained. "The rest was okay, better than the first stage in fact, but we made a mistake…”

Ogier was the stage winner, and feeling increasingly confident at the wheel of his Polo R. “Another good stage for me. I tried to push,” he said, before heading off to SS10.

Rally leader Thierry Neuville was his closest challenger on the stage. The Belgian was just 1.1sec slower through despite limited grip on sections of ultra-smooth shiny asphalt. “It’s dangerous, very fast everywhere and black tarmac that’s just like ice. It’s easy to lock the wheels and lose control,” he said.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest and didn’t agree with Neuville’s assessment. “The grip was better than I expected. It was surprisingly good in places and I took some time to adjust to that. Overall it’s going really well. I managed to get a lot of good confidence. Now I just need to keep my head cool,” he said.

Latvala’s time was good enough to move him up to second, one-tenth ahead of Citroen’s Dani Sordo, who felt he could have been quicker. “It was okay but the last downhill section was really tricky, slippery and fast. Maybe we lost a little there but I’m still happy,” said Sordo.

click: wrc.com/news/ss9


SS10: Loeb racks up 900th win

The second morning of Rallye de France-Alsace has been a tale of the two Sebastiens. Volkswagen’s Ogier was fastest through the opening two tests before Citroen’s Loeb secured his 900th stage win in the last of the loop.

Loeb was quickest by 2.9sec in his DS3 from Jari-Matti Latvala and headed towards the 15-minute remote service in Colmar unperturbed by what was a difficult morning up to then.

“In the first stage the settings weren’t good and in the next one I spun, so for the first time I had no problems here, no mistakes. We lost a lot of time yesterday and today, but I’m here to enjoy myself. I don’t need the points so I will drive as I see,” said Loeb, who moved back ahead of Ogier into fourth.

Second fastest for Latvala enabled the Volkswagen Polo R driver to reduce the deficit to leader Thierry Neuville to 13.1sec. Both attacked hard in the wet conditions and while the Finn profited, Neuville was lucky to escape a lurid moment in his Ford Fiesta RS near the finish.

“I was going quite quickly and lost the front under braking. The car understeered wide and I had to use the handbrake. I was a bit lucky to get out,” admitted the Belgian, who was only fifth quickest.

Latvala and Sordo are engaged in a fierce battle behind Neuville, with Latvala claiming second in the previous test and widening his advantage to 1.1sec here. “It’s a fierce fight but it’s very good,” said Latvala. “At the end I did a couple of small mistakes. I attacked the slow corners too hard and understeered too much.”

Sordo was fourth quickest in his DS3 but the Spaniard was content with the morning. “I lost time in the first stage and the next was slippery so I didn’t take risks. This one was OK,” he explained.

Ogier was third and now lies 3.6sec behind Loeb. “I’m quite happy with the morning. Thierry is still quite far ahead but we have to carry on pushing,” said the Polo R pilot, who trails the leader by 23.4sec.


Robert Kubica remains way out front after chief rival Elfyn Evans dropped almost three minutes yesterday with a puncture. In a glimpse of what might have been, Evans, in a Ford Fiesta R5, was quickest on two of this morning’s tests while Kubica, at the wheel of a Citroen DS3 RRC, was untouchable through SS7. Fiesta R5 driver Rashid Al Ketbi is a distant third, 6min 13sec behind Evans.


Quentin Gilbert continues to lead but is under increasing pressure from a hard- charging Sebastien Chardonnet. Chardonnet began today’s competition 40.4sec adrift of Gilbert, but after two stage wins the gap is down to 27.2sec as crews head to service. Keith Cronin is third, 51.2sec behind Chardonnet. All three are driving Citroen DS3 R3T cars.

click: wrc.com/news/ss10


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
SS11: Sordo in front after Neuville hits trouble

Dani Sordo became the new leader of Rally de France – Alsace after Thierry Neuville punctured his left-hand rear tyre on a dramatic first stage of the afternoon.

Neuville was first to tackle the stage, but split times showed he was more than 1m 20s slower than his rivals. Arriving at the control with his Fiesta’s rear wheel running on the rim, a downcast Neuville explained what had happened.

“We slid slightly wide in a right hand junction and hit something, a stone or something. It pushed the tyre off the rim, it deflated and then it was finished. It’s not possible to win any more,” he said.

The time loss dropped Neuville to fifth, behind a group of four drivers now separated by less than 5.2 seconds.

The fight for the lead intensified further thanks to the times of Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb who were first and second fastest respectively. Ogier was quickest, to narrow the gap between them to 0.7sec, finally igniting the much-anticipated ‘battle of the Sebs’.

Asked if he felt he could win, Ogier said: “Yes, it’s more possible now, but we have to carry on like this. We pushed hard and yes, we are taking risks.”

Loeb turned up the wick as well, but with the stage drying after the earlier rain, he was concerned about the life in his soft-compound tyres. “I tried to push but it was difficult because we are heating the tyres a lot. Apart from that I’m okay. I did quite a good stage I think.”

Sordo meanwhile found that his third fastest time had landed him a 2.9sec rally lead over Jari-Matti Latvala “It’s a nice fight, but Jari-Matti and the others are doing well too. I was on the soft tyre and the car was moving about a lot. Everything can happen, so it’s going to be interesting….” he said.

Latvala had a few fraught moments in his Polo R, and at the stage end was still trying to take in all that had happened. “We have a big fight, and I’m not sure what Loeb and Ogier will do yet. Nothing is clear. I lost the brakes near the start when the road was wet and I was scared. There were one or two cuts that I didn’t like either. I’m hoping the next stages will be better.” he said.

click: wrc.com/news/ss11


SS12: Ogier closes in as Loeb slips back

Sebastien Ogier claimed his fourth win in five stages today to close in further on the lead of Rally de France - Alsace. The Frenchman climbed to third in his Volkswagen Polo R and now lies just 4.4sec behind Dani Sordo.

Ogier thrived in the mixed conditions, dry in parts and damp in others with plenty of mud on the inside of corners. He was four-tenths of a second quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala with Sordo next, just three-tenths of a second further back in what has become a thrilling four-car battle for supremacy.

“It was a good stage, very tricky with a few corners full of mud,” said Ogier. “Of course I push. Ever since yesterday afternoon I try to push and we have to carry on. It’s a really nice fight. I said before the start there were five guys able to fight for victory and that’s what happened.”

Although conditions were drier than this morning, Latvala found the stage harder. “This morning the road was clean and constantly damp. It was easier because it was consistent. Now it’s partly dry, but it’s more difficult because there are areas which are wet, with mud on the road,” said the Polo R pilot.

Sordo’s lead over Latvala is just 2.6sec, the Spaniard escaping after taking to the grass mid-stage in his Citroen DS3. “I used all the corner!” he smiled. “I went a little bit off the road but nothing important.”

Sebastien Loeb’s challenge took a slight dent when his DS3 handled badly through the test. “I’m not happy. It’s understeering and I don’t know why,” explained the Frenchman, who was 3.7sec slower than Ogier.

What of former leader Thierry Neuville, who lost his advantage with a puncture in the previous test? There was no lasting suspension damage to his Ford Fiesta RS but the Belgian cut a deflated figure at the finish.

“I took it steady,” he said. “I am 1min 10sec behind the leaders and there’s a big gap behind me. I can’t puncture again now with another long stage to go, so I must stay on the road now.”

Neuville was fifth fastest and the top six was rounded off by the similar car of Evgeny Novikov.

click: wrc.com/news/ss12


SS13: Awesome foursome

With just the short Mulhouse street stage left to run today, the fight for victory at Rallye de France is wide open, with the top four separated by just 5.5sec after Saturday’s final ‘proper’ test.

The repeated stage from Soulzeren featured more of Saturday’s varied weather conditions, with rain affecting just about everybody except Thierry Neuville who completed in the fastest time before the heavens opened.

From Sordo backwards, drivers reported rain at the end, then rain from the middle and then rain for the whole stage.

Jari-Matti Latvala was joint second fastest, to lie six-tenths of a second off Dani Sordo’s lead. “I wasn’t easy in there. I can tell you. The cuts were difficult, but I started to find more confidence. When the tarmac is clean then the grip is good, but when there is mud on the road, eurgh! I don’t like that at all. It’s an exciting battle but we have to be clever.”

The Finn began the rally with a clear brief from Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito to prioritise manufacturers’ championship points over a rally win. Asked if he might now be able to fight for the victory, Latvala replied: “I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to Mr Capito.”

Sebastien Loeb set the same stage time as Latvala, and arrived at the control in a torrential downpour. “It was raining like hell in there, so bad we were aquaplaning," he said. "It’s a close fight now and of course we’ll do what we can [to win]. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Sebastien Ogier was fourth quickest, one-tenth slower than Loeb and Latvala. “Lots of rain from my position of fifth on the road. But that’s my fault. If I had done better yesterday perhaps I would have missed the worst of it! It looks like the weather is not on my side here,” he said.

Sordo was fifth fastest in his Citroen DS3, 2.7 sec off Neuville’s pace. “I lost a little time in some of the dirty corners and that knocked my confidence a bit - especially on the downhill section near the end,” he said. Asked if a win was possible, Sordo said: “It’s a nice fight. Let’s see what we can do.”

click: wrc.com/news/ss13


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
SS14: Latvala leads French thriller

Jari-Matti Latvala holds a slender lead of four-tenths of a second in Rallye de France following a thrilling day that ended with four drivers covered by five seconds ahead of tomorrow's final leg.

Latvala snatched the lead through the final stage tonight to bring his Volkswagen Polo R back to Strasbourg in front of Dani Sordo. The Spaniard lies just 1.1sec clear of Sebastien Ogier, with Sebastien Loeb still chasing victory in his final rally a further 3.5sec adrift.

This 11th round of the WRC blew apart when Thierry Neuville, leading by 13.1sec in a Ford Fiesta RS, slid wide and punctured his rear left tyre in this afternoon’s opening stage. He lost nearly 90sec and dropped out of contention to fifth.

It left Sordo in front, but an increasingly confident Latvala gradually reeled in the Citroen DS3 after a day characterised by constantly changing conditions. Drivers encountered fog, rain, and mud this morning, before temporarily drier roads this afternoon offered consistency until the wet weather returned.

“It’s incredible the kind of fight we’re having,” said Latvala, who has yet to win a stage. “It’s one of the greatest rallies I have been involved in. I was perhaps too cautious on a couple of stages but the main thing is I made no mistakes. I’ve dug out some little things that have been missing from my driving.”

Sordo paid tribute to his rival after the duo fought for tenths of a second throughout the day. “Latvala was really good. I lost time in the last long stage but I’m fighting with the best in the world, so that’s very nice,” he said.

After a lacklustre opening day, Ogier was right back on form. He won five of the seven tests in his Polo R to propel himself into the thick of the fight.

“After yesterday I had a doubt that I would be able to come back, but I had a perfect day. I pushed hard, the car worked well and I had a perfect feeling with it, so I must continue like this tomorrow,” said Ogier.

Loeb lost a few seconds when his DS3 developed understeer this afternoon but earlier claimed his 900th career stage win. “It’s so tight, such a tough fight,” said the Frenchman. “I tried to push hard all day but I wasn’t always happy with the car, myself, everything. But we’re still in the fight so it’s not so bad.”

Neuville was deflated after seeing his hopes of a maiden win shattered, but he bounced back to win the penultimate test. “It’s the first time I’ve suffered this season and I had a good lead and was fighting for the victory. I saw I could be ahead of both Sebastiens, both world champions, so I think we’ve done well,” said the Belgian who is 1min 10.4sec off the lead.

Evgeny Novikov enjoyed a steady day to hold sixth in his Fiesta RS, 2min 16.4sec behind Neuville and 26.7sec ahead of Mikko Hirvonen’s Citroen DS3. Hirvonen struggled to talk as a throat infection worsened, but he holds a 14.1sec advantage over Mads Ostberg’s Fiesta RS.

Andreas Mikkelsen could not get to grips with an understeering Polo R in the wet and slipped a couple of places to ninth, while Czech driver Martin Prokop rounded off the top 10.

Tomorrow’s final leg offers six more tests north of Strasbourg covering 56.58km. There is no mid-leg service and the final stage runs through the streets of Haguenau, Loeb’s home town. Will there be a fairy tale ending for the retiring champion?

click: wrc.com/news/latvala-leads


WRC 2: Kubica on track

Robert Kubica remains way out front in the WRC 2 category following two days of competition at Rallye de France - Alsace.

After fourteen all-asphalt stages, the Pole brought his Citroen DS3 RRC back to service in Strasbourg with a lead of 3m 30.1s over Welshman Elfyn Evans, who dropped out of winning contention when he got a puncture on Friday.

In a glimpse of what might have been, Evans, in a Ford Fiesta R5, was quickest on two of Saturday morning’s tests while Kubica was untouchable through the third. In the afternoon, both drivers won two stages apiece.

Rashid Al Ketbi completes the provisional podium, although the Fiesta R5 driver is a distant 9min 46sec behind Evans.

“The mistake that Evans made yesterday helped us but I'm still driving well and without risks,” said Kubica, who will move top in the WRC 2 championship standings if he wins here.

“It was a difficult day but we had no problems. The stages were quite tricky with a lot of cuts and mud. It was the first time for me driving with these tyres in the wet,” he added.

Evans overcame a technical issue to remain on course for 18 points on Sunday – the same result he achieved at Rallye Deutschland.

“We had a small brake problem but it was manageable,” he explained. “When it happened in the first stage this morning I expected it would get worse but it didn’t, so it hasn't been a big issue. Overall it’s been a good day, I can’t complain. I'm pleased with the progress we made from yesterday.”

Ricardo Trivino is fourth in a Subaru Impreza, 24 minutes behind Kubica, with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X driver Marco Vallario rounding off the top five.

click: wrc.com/news/wrc-2


JWRC: Tidemand secures Junior title

Sweden's Pontus Tidemand clinched the 2013 FIA Junior WRC title after securing his third win in five rallies on Rallye de France - Alsace today.

The 22-year-old was left clear to take victory after Canary Islander Yeray Lemes, who had an outside chance of the title, hit trouble while in front on Saturday’s final loop of stages.

That followed problems for Tidemand’s other main championship rival, José Suárez, who rolled on Friday.

The result means Tidemand cannot now be caught on the final round, Lemes’s and Suárez’s home event in Spain later this month.

“It wasn’t easy but this was a great rally and I’m delighted to have taken the title with a round still to go,” said a delighted Tidemand. “We’ve had no problems to speak of and my co-driver, Ole, has done a fantastic job too. Victory here makes us both very happy!”

Luxembourg’s Hugo Arellano grabbed an excellent second place on his Junior WRC debut, ahead of Norwegian Marius Aasen in third as nine of the ten competitors – all in Hankook-shod, GEM-fuelled Ford Fiestas R2s – made it to the finish line in Strasbourg.

Lemes briefly clung on to third despite the puncture on SS11 which cost him the lead, but damage to his car meant he was powerless to hold off the charging Aasen on the closing stages.

He limped home fourth while Suárez retired for good on stage 12 when he drove into a tree. It was his second crash of the rally, having rejoined the action after Friday’s roll.

Martin Koci took fifth after a close fight with Michael Burri who completed the top six. Murat Bostanci was just able to hold off Sander Pärn for seventh, while Niko Nieminen was the final finisher in ninth.

click: wrc.com/news/jwrc

WRC videos youtube.com/wrc


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
SS15: Loeb rolls out

Sebastien Loeb rolled out of Rallye de France - Alsace just a kilometre into this morning’s opening stage as fellow countryman Sebastien Ogier blitzed his rivals in treacherous rain-soaked conditions to move into the lead.

Loeb, competing in his final WRC rally in his home region, was one of four drivers starting the final leg covered by just 5.0sec. However, the nine-time world champion’s career ended with his Citroen DS3 on its roof in a ditch.

Neither Loeb nor co-driver Daniel Elena were injured in the crash, which marked their first retirement since Rally Italia Sardegna in October 2012 with broken steering after striking rocks on Friday’s opening test.

Thierry Neuville started the test immediately behind Loeb and saw the Frenchman’s car. “Conditions were terrible. He went off the road at a very fast right bend and went deep into a ditch. I just saw the wheels of the car, which was upside down,” he said.

Ogier pumped his fists when he saw his time at the finish, 8.4sec quicker than Dani Sordo and 14.5sec clear of team-mate and overnight leader Jari-Matti Latvala. It propelled him into the lead, 7.3sec ahead of Sordo and 13.0sec up on Latvala.

“It’s a great time. We push, and no mistakes. We had a few moments but the weather information from our gravel crew was nice,” said the Volkswagen Polo R driver.

Sordo highlighted how tricky the test had been. “It’s very easy to make a mistake here. I tried to drive well. There was a lot of standing water at the end so I think it will be cleaning for the others,” he said.

Latvala admitted Loeb’s accident and his team-mate’s pace had forced him to re-evaluate his victory charge.

“When I heard Loeb was off the road I backed off. It might be too difficult for me to fight for victory here. We need to be clever because manufacturers’ points are the key elements now that Loeb is out. The stage started OK but it was difficult with the cuts. There was a lot of mud on the road and it was difficult to find grip” said the Finn.

Mikko Hirvonen and Andreas Mikkelsen also went off the road. Mikkelsen slid his Polo R into a field, while Hirvonen overshot a tight left bend and his DS3 skated into the vines.

“I didn’t hit anything. I just went into the vines and lost many seconds getting back on the road,” explained Hirvonen, who slipped to seventh behind Mads Ostberg in the standings.

Martin Prokop’s Ford Fiesta RS collected water into the footwell and the Czech driver’s visibility was hindered by a fogged up windscreen as a result.

click: wrc.com/news/ss15


SS16: Ogier pulling clear

Sebastien Ogier kept his winning momentum on the rain-soaked Bischwiller stage, going fastest again to extend his rally lead over Dani Sordo into double figures.

Ogier threaded his Polo R through the narrow test in 4m 16.3s, nine-tenths faster than the Ford Fiesta RS of Thierry Neuville, who was his closest challenger on the stage.

“There’s no secret to the speed - I was just pushing,” a determined Ogier explained at the finish control. “It’s quite hot in the car! Up to now today has been perfect.”

Sordo completed in the fourth quickest time, 4.4sec slower than Ogier. “It was okay but very slippery and tricky – and I think the next one will be the same.”

More bad news for the Spaniard is that an increasingly confident Jari-Matti Latvala is now just 3.8sec behind.

“That was a good stage. The first one today was horrible, and I backed off after Loeb went off, but I liked this one, even though it’s damp and there is lots of water about. Somehow the grip is more consistent. Okay, Ogier is flying now but we have a good little fight with Dani,” said the Finn.

click: wrc.com/news/ss16


SS17: Clean sweep for Ogier

Sebastien Ogier secured his third consecutive win of the morning to further strengthen his grip on the lead of Rallye de France - Alsace.

The large crowds in Haguenau were disappointed not to see hometown hero Sebastien Loeb after he rolled out earlier today, but Ogier warmed them up in the drizzle by going fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R by 0.4sec.

“A perfect morning,” smiled the Frenchman at the finish. “But it’s going to be tough and muddy this afternoon, especially in the first stage.”

Mikko Hirvonen claimed his best result of the weekend in his Citroen DS3 behind Ogier. After a subdued performance to date, the Finn was on form through the streets. “I don’t know why that happened!” he joked. “When the roads are good and clean, I finally had a good time.”

Thierry Neuville was third in his Ford Fiesta RS, only three-tenths of a second further back despite visibility problems. “Yesterday when we had the puncture we got a hole in the car. There s a lot of water coming in and it’s very wet. The windscreen is misted up, but I can just see enough,” explained the Belgian.

Jari-Matti Latvala was next up in his Polo R, four-tenths of a second ahead of Dani Sordo and the Finn reduced the gap to the second-placed Spaniard to 3.4sec

“It’s a difficult day, the most difficult of the rally,” said Latvala. “There’s more water today and the grip levels are changing a lot. Even the Hagueanu stage is slippery in places, but it’s all going according to plan.”

Sordo vowed to continue his pursuit of Ogier, even though the gap is now 13.7sec. “It will be difficult to catch him this afternoon as conditions will be muddy, but we will try,” he said.

Mads Ostberg was fifth in his Fiesta RS, but the Norwegian was concerned about a problem with the front brakes. With no mid-leg service, it’s something he must either live with or try to rectify himself before the afternoon stages.

The stage spelled the end of the rally for Czech driver Martin Prokop. He retired from ninth after his Fiesta RS hit a kerb, breaking a spigot holding the front wishbone to the suspension upright.

Citroen DS3 driver Robert Kubica remains out front in the WRC 2 category. The Pole was fastest on all three stages, with second placed Elfyn Evans his closest challenger in a Ford Fiesta R5. Kubica will take a lead of 3min 49 sec into the afternoon.

Quentin Gilbert remains on course for victory in the WRC 3 category, after his chief rival Sebastien Chardonnet dropped 18.9sec in the rain on today’s opening test. Title hopeful Chardonnet fought back with fastest times on stages 16 and 17, but with three stages to go Gilbert has a 37.5sec advantage in his Citroen DS3 R3.

click: wrc.com/news/ss17


1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Loeb: “It didn’t go as planned...”

Sebastien Loeb has admitted he was at maximum attack, and hoping to take victory, when he crashed out of Rallye de France on this morning's opening stage.

The outgoing world champion began the day fourth, just five seconds off the lead, and hoping to end his record breaking career with a 79th WRC rally win.

But his challenge ended just 1km into the rain soaked Vignoble de Cleebourg stage (SS15), when his Citroen DS3 rolled into a ditch.

Back at the Strasbourg service area, Loeb told wrc.com what happened: “I started flat out because it was a close situation. We were fourth, fighting for the victory, but it didn’t go as I planned…” he said.

“I lost the rear in a fast right corner, and then we had a spin and I finished in the ditch. And that was the race over. For sure I would have preferred to have finished my last rally here, but it didn’t go according to the plan.”

However Loeb, who will switch to a World Touring Car programme with Citroen next season, remained philosophical.

“I’m not happy about the situation but I was not driving for the championship so I don’t need the points. I do feel sorry for the spectators and for the team though. There are a lot of spectators waiting in the stages and I won’t be driving through.

"For me it’s okay, I have some new plans for the future. I would have preferred to finish on the podium here on my last rally, but that’s life,” he added.



1,364 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
SS18: Sordo claws back time

Dani Sordo refused to settle for second in Rallye de France - Alsace when he clawed back almost four seconds on leader Sebastien Ogier during the opening stage this afternoon.

The Spaniard won the stage by 0.4sec in his Citroen DS3 from Thierry Neuville’s Ford Fiesta RS. But, more importantly, he was 3.7sec quicker than Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R to reduce the deficit between the pair to 10.0sec with two tests remaining.

“I lost time here this morning but the conditions are even more tricky now. It’s muddy but it’s a good fight with Jari-Matti for second. We’ll see about Ogier….” said Sordo, who stretched his advantage over third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala to 13.7sec.

Ogier appeared rattled at the stage finish, although the Frenchman played down any concerns after setting fourth fastest time. “I didn’t push. That’s my strategy now. It’s all OK,” he said, before heading off for the penultimate test.

If Sordo thought he was battling Latvala, then the Finn had a different view on the situation. “It’s quite bad there and I’m not good in muddy conditions. I don’t like it and I’m not confident enough to push in those conditions. It seems quite clear that I will be third on the podium,” he said.

Neuville survived a half-spin, the Belgian explaining: “It’s like cross-country riding! I went wide at a junction. I turned late with the handbrake and lost one or two seconds.”

Mads Ostberg dropped a minute in his Fiesta RS after sliding off the road at a tight left bend.

“We went wide and got stuck and needed help from the spectators,” said the Norwegian. “We had problems with the brakes earlier and I only have rear brakes. I worked a lot on the road section. We worked on the car right up to the start and things were stressed.”

click: wrc.com/news/ss18


SS19: Ogier 12sec ahead

Sebastien Ogier will take a 12.2sec lead into the final stage of Rallye de France after a trouble free run through the penultimate test.

The Frenchman drove his Volkswagen Polo R through the repeated section from Bischwiller in the joint second-fastest time, one second adrift of stage winner Jari-Matti Latvala.

“This one was a bit easier than the first pass, so all okay, a good drive,” said Ogier, as he left for the rally closing street stage at Haguenau.

Fourth quickest for Dani Sordo was enough to keep the Spaniard relatively comfortable in second, 10.5sec ahead of third placed Latvala.

Sordo said he hadn’t given up on catching Ogier, but admitted he wouldn’t be able to do it through driving alone.

click: wrc.com/news/ss19



Sebastien Ogier delivered a masterclass display in treacherous conditions today to win Rally de France - Alsace and bookend a perfect weekend after clinching his maiden drivers' world title on Thursday.

After a lacklustre Friday when the euphoria of Thursday night’s title win left him jaded and down in fifth, the Frenchman roared back into contention with a string of stage wins yesterday in his Volkswagen Polo R.

Ogier started today’s final leg as one of four drivers chasing victory, covered by just five seconds. But he stamped his authority with a dominant win in the rain-soaked opening stage to build an advantage he managed through to the Strasbourg finish.

He won by 12.2sec from Dani Sordo, revitalised in his Citroen DS3 following his win in Germany in August. Jari-Matti Latvala was a further 7.3sec behind in another Polo R, both having led before Ogier took control.

“There has been so much emotion this weekend,” said Ogier, for whom this was his seventh win of the season. “After the excitement of winning the title on Thursday, it was difficult to get back into the race. But we couldn’t stay like that all weekend and decided to react yesterday.

“We pushed to the maximum then and this morning we soon made a gap at the front. Then we had to bring the car home, which wasn’t easy in the rain and mud. We started the story from zero with Volkswagen last year, and now we’re close to the manufacturers’ title as well,” he added.

Sordo led when Thierry Neuville dropped back with a puncture after sliding his Ford Fiesta RS into a kerb yesterday afternoon. Although he could not fend off Ogier, he was happy with second.

“There’s always disappointment when you finish second but it’s another podium in a rally in which we were fighting all the time for first,” he said. “When you’re in the car and see how difficult it is to take just one second back, and Ogier is 15sec ahead, you have to be realistic. We pushed, but Ogier is champion for a reason.”

Latvala was relieved after a troubled run of rallies. “I didn’t make a single mistake here, it was my most consistent rally for a long time. I’ve had a lot of pressure lately after mistakes in Finland, Germany and Australia and it eats your mind,” he admitted.

There was no fairy tale ending to Sebastien Loeb’s WRC career. Having led the opening leg, the Frenchman started today 5.0sec from the top and hopeful of celebrating a 79th victory at the final stage in his home town of Haguenau.

However, he rolled his Citroen DS3 into retirement 1km into the opening test.
“I lost the rear in a fast right corner, and then we had a spin and I finished in the ditch. And that was the race over. I would have preferred to have finished my last rally here, but it didn’t go according to plan,” said Loeb.

Neuville’s disappointment at missing a maiden WRC win after leading by more than 16sec was huge. But the Belgian recovered to finish fourth, almost a minute behind Latvala, and he remains second in the drivers’ standings.

click: wrc.com/news/19243


Next: Rnd 12 Rallye de Spain 24-27 Oct 13

The RallyRACC-Rally de Espana has been a unique event in recent seasons of the WRC in that it has been the only true mixed surface round of the season. Nowhere else has three days of rallying been split across gravel and asphalt; in Spain the first day's competition is off-road, with the last two days running on tarmac.

The use of asphalt and gravel stages on the same event not only increases the challenge facing the crews due to the different driving style requirements, it also adds to the workload placed on the mechanics and engineers, who have to convert their cars from gravel to asphalt specification in a restricted timeframe.

Based on Spain’s Costa Daurada in the country’s Tarragona region, the event is always one of the highlights of the WRC season.

Official Website: rallyracc.com/2013/

Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/

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