Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has confirmed a misheard pace note was the reason for his exit from Rally de Portugal last night.
Loeb, who was third after SS2, 6.1 seconds behind the lead Ford, went off the road in the next stage, crashing his Citroen DS3 WRC car mid-way through the 14.29 km Santa Clara test.
Speaking afterwards he admitted that he just didn't hear the pace note very well and by the time he realised he had made an error it was 'too late'.
"We came to a crest which started with a short left-hand turn followed by a longer right-hand turn. Daniel [Elena] gave me the right pace note, but I continued to turn to the left. I tried to correct, but my DS3 WRC skidded into a big ditch and we were thrown into a roll," Loeb recalled.
"The damage wasn't that too bad, except for the roll cage, which did its job and ended up bent. It's a shame, because the small lead we had built at the top of the World Championship standings will probably disappear."
Loeb will not be able to re-start under the Rally 2 regulations today [Friday] and as such Mikko Hirvonen is now left to carry the baton for the Citroen Total WRT. Hirvonen ended the first day third, 5 seconds off the lead.
"It's almost funny that the differences are so small [to the two Fords ahead] given that we chose such different strategies as regards the starting positions," Hirvonen reflected. "I don't really know who chose the best option, but I am convinced we took fewer risks.
"If there had been more dust or if the rain had fallen earlier, we would have had a big advantage. I am going to fight hard now.
“But I am also very aware that I must make it to the finish to score points towards the World Championship.”