Qatar World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville heads the leaderboard of Rallye de France Alsace after the first full day of competition in this, the 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Belgian is 9.9 seconds ahead of Citroën’s Dani Sordo with Jari-Matti Latvala a mere 1.9 seconds adrift in third in the Polo R WRC.
Today’s route took the contenders to the west of Strasbourg for two identical loops of three stages covering 116.08 competitive kilometres. Having won last night’s bonus points-scoring Power Stage, Dani Sordo went into the opening stage today with seventh-tenths of a second advantage and maintained his lead ahead of a chasing Sébastien Loeb. However, after setting fastest time on each of the first loop of stages, Loeb inched into the lead as the crews arrived back in Strasbourg for the mid-day service.
This afternoon belonged to Neuville though, the Belgian claiming all the stage victories to overhaul Citroën’s returning nine-time FIA World Rally Champion. Sordo fared well in ever-changing weather conditions that resulted in some unusual tyre strategies and is within striking distance of Neuville but ever-mindful of a chasing Latvala. Loeb, in his final outing in the Championship, holds fourth ahead of incoming World Champion*, Sébastien Ogier. Both drivers have run without problems but, like all the crews, have gained and lost on various stages depending on the road and weather conditions.
Saturday looks to be another difficult day for the crews with heavy rain forecast and the potential of standing water on the stages to the south of Strasbourg. Adding to the challenge, there is also only a remote service in Colmar separating the two loops of stages.
* Subject to official publication of the results by the FIA
Rallye de France Alsace – Unofficial Results after Day 2