Loeb marches on with ninth WRC title in sight
Sebastien Loeb is on the brink of winning the World Rally Championship for a ninth time, fittingly at his country’s home rally – Rallye de France Alsace.
The Citroen superstar holds a lead of almost half a minute going into the final day and there is only six timed stages and 60km between him and co-driver Daniel Elena conquering the WRC again.
Ford rival Jari-Matti Latvala dropped 20 seconds after his altercation with a ditch allowing Loeb to hold a 29.7sec lead.
“Today has been good with no problems,” said Loeb.
“I have felt pressure all day but I didn’t take any risk as I don’t need to win to be world champion. There could be rain and tricky weather tomorrow so it could be a great day for Citroen but it could also be a difficult final day.”
Latvala says he needs to find more consistency in order to put more pressure on Loeb.
Mikko Hirvonen remains third in the second factory Citroen at 24.3s behind Latvala is the only driver standing in the way of Loeb’s triumphal march to another title.
Petter Solberg had a heart-stopping crash through a vineyard before toppling a power pole and he will restart under the Rally 2 rules.
Mads Ostberg displaced Prodrive MINI competitor Dani Sordo from fourth in his Adapta Fiesta.
Thierry Neuville slipped to sixth after copping a 20-second time penalty for an early check-in at the start of stage 11.
M-Sport Fiesta youngsters Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov are seventh and eighth respectively with Chris Atkinson ninth for WRC Team MINI Portugal alongside stand-in co-driver Glenn Macneall.