WRC France: Jari-Matti Latvala moves into the lead

Jari-Matti Latvala moved into the lead of the Rally of France after Thierry Neuville suffered a punctured tyre on the first of Saturday afternoon's loop of stages

WRC France: Jari-Matti Latvala moves into the lead

The Belgian entered the Hohlandsbourg test with a 13.1-second advantage over the rest of the field but came a cropper mid-stage when he hit a large stone, causing his left-rear tyre to fall off its rim and deflate.

He lost 1m20s as a consequence and fell down to fifth overall and, despite winning the third stage of the afternoon through Soultzeren, trails rally leader Latvala by 1m10.4s overnight.

Dani Sordo was in sparkling form during Saturday and his third-fastest time through Hohlandsbourg gave him the rally lead, which he held until the final test as both Volkswagen drivers turned up the wick along with the Spaniard's Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.

Sordo's advantage over Latvala was just 0.6s prior to the final stage of the day through the streets of Mulhouse, which became a 0.4s deficit after the Finn posted a time one-second quicker.

Ogier is 1.5s behind his team-mate in third, while Loeb's challenge took a slight knock when he experienced understeer through the second of the afternoon's tests - Vallee de Munster - which resulted in him losing 3.7s.

The nine-time world champion starts the final day of his rally swansong 5s off the lead, but more than minute ahead of fifth-placed Neuville.

Evgeny Novikov is a similar distance behind his M-Sport team-mate, while Mikko Hirvonen remains in seventh as his relatively lacklustre rally continues to play out.

Robert Kubica is still in charge of WRC2 and has built a lead of 3m30.1s over Elfyn Evans.

Leading positions after SS14: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen 2h18m58.3s 2. Dani Sordo Citroen +0.4s 3. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen +1.5s 4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen +5.0s 5. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford +1m10.4s 6. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford +2m16.4s 7. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen +2m43.1s 8. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford +2m57.2s 9. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen +3m19.2s 10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +5m25.2s 
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Series WRC
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala
Author Dan Cross
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