Sébastien Loeb has maintained his advantage at the head of the Rallye de France Alsace leaderboard and the Frenchman now has a 29.7 second lead over nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala. Mikko Hirvonen retains third after the longest day of the event and the crews now have just 61.54 kilometres to contest before the finish in Strasbourg on Sunday afternoon.
Today’s route was long, taking in 192.80 competitive kilometres over two identical loops of four stages through scenic vineyards and mountains. Sébastien Loeb has once again shone on his home round of the Championship but has still been challenged for victories stage by stage. While he has escaped unscathed, Latvala hit a bank on the second stage having run wide on a damp patch of tarmac. This lost the Finn 18 seconds and, despite him setting three fastest times during the day, has given Loeb an almost unassailable lead, barring any problems for the Frenchman. Hirvonen has had a trouble-free run throughout the day and was equal fastest with Latvala through the 11th stage to hold third overnight.
Petter Solberg held fourth position at the start of the day, but the Norwegian went off the road in the opening stage. After hitting a telegraph pole, he was forced onto the side-lines with front-end damage to the Fiesta RS WRC. Mads Ostberg has climbed from seventh to fourth while Dani Sordo - who had a spin in the first stage - has dropped to fifth albeit just 4.1 seconds adrift. Thierry Neuville rounds off the top six, also hot on their heels.