Sebastien Loeb admits his chances of victory in Sardinia have gone after he picked up a puncture, but said he was still confident of taking home a podium from the latest round of the World Rally Championship season.
The Frenchman went into the day running third on the road, but he was only able to claw back six seconds to Jari-Matti Latvala during the morning loop after losing time on SS7 and picking up a penalty for being late into SS9 after stopping to bleed the brakes on his car.
Further time to the leader was lost on the repeat run through Sa Linea but Loeb's hopes of victory more or less vanished when he was forced to stop and change a wheel on SS11 – dropping a minute and putting the Frenchman down to fourth behind Petter Solberg.
However, with the Norwegian only a matter of seconds ahead going into the final day, Loeb said he was still confident of a podium even if his chances of victory have gone.
"We picked up a puncture after brushing a tree and we had to stop to change wheels,” he said. “We beat our own record doing the job, but a minute isn't something you can make up easily.
"Victory is out of the question now, but we are only two seconds off third place, so that will be our target on Sunday…"
The day also didn't go to plan for team-mate Dani Sordo, who had battled his way up the order to fifth place before turbo problems forced him to complete stage eleven and stage twelve at reduced speed – putting the Spaniard back to eighth ahead of the final day.
"It's such a shame because I was feeling really comfortable with my C4 WRC here in Sardinia,” he said. “We posted some good times before our problem.
"We're now back down to eighth, so we will try to make sure we come away with a few points in both championships."