Rally France: Sebastian Loeb eases clear as Fords hit trouble

Sebastien Loeb is now half a minute clear in France after Ford's challenge stumbled on Saturday morning

Rally France: Sebastian Loeb eases clear as Fords hit trouble

The most dramatic incident was Petter Solberg's departure.

The Norwegian was chasing down Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen for third when he slid off in a vineyard on the opening stage, slewed back over the course and then hit an electricity pole. The pole collapsed, thankfully missing both the Ford and the gathered spectators, but depriving the local area of power.

Jari-Matti Latvala started the day 13 seconds behind leader Loeb's Citroen in the sister Ford, but that gap increased when he ran wide into a ditch on SS10, Pays d'Ormont.

Latvala trimmed a few seconds back by winning the following Pays de la Haute Bruche stage, leaving the gap at exactly 30s.

Klevener, the scheduled final stage of the loop, was cancelled due to spectator overcrowding.

Latvala's mistake briefly gave Hirvonen a sniff of second, but they are now 19s apart after the Ford man regained his composure.

Although Thierry Neuville took fourth place from Dani Sordo during the morning, that position could be in doubt, with the Belgian believing he is set for a penalty for checking in late at a time control.

Mads Ostberg is now right behind the Citroen and Mini too, with fourth to sixth places covered by just 2.1s.

Debutant star Sebastien Chardonnet lost his top 10 place when he stopped to help at the scene of Nasser Al-Attiyah's stage 10 accident, which left two spectators with broken bones.

Citroen hopes Chardonnet will be given an adjusted time and returned to what would now be ninth place.

Leading positions after SS11: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h03m06.9s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 30.0s 3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 49.0s 4. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 1m23.5s 5. Dani Sordo Prodrive Mini + 1m23.8s 6. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 1m25.6s 7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 2m06.9s 8. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 2m34.2s 9. Chris Atkinson Italia Mini + 5m05.5s 10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 5m47.5s 
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Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb
Author Matt Beer
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