Rallye de France: Neuville charges to the front in France

Thierry Neuville will take a 9.8 second lead into Friday's overnight halt; Dani Sordo lies second, with Jari-Matti Latvala third and Sebastien Loeb now fourth...
Thierry Neuville has concluded the first full day of competition in the lead on Rallye de France-Alsace, the latest round in the 2013 World Rally Championship.

The Qatar World Rally Team man began the leg in second place, following the short opening Strasbourg Power Stage on Thursday, and he got off to a steady start, posting the sixth fastest time in SS2. He was then second in SS3 and SS4 to head back for the mid-day service third overall, 3.7 seconds off Sebastien Loeb.

On the repeat loop this afternoon, however, Neuville got his tyre choice - four hards - spot on, and with conditions staying dry, was quickest in all three tests in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

That allowed him to take the lead in SS6 and then pull ahead in SS7. The Belgian now concludes the leg with a 9.8 second advantage.

“It has been a perfect afternoon for us. We had faultless information from the team and our weather crews – so a big congratulations to them because we would not be in first place if it was not for them! I felt really comfortable and we were able to push without taking any big risks. I felt confident all day," said Neuville.

“It will be a new experience for me running first on the road. I have never been first [on the road] on tarmac so I will have to learn quickly. I will have to make my own lines and I won't have the benefit of seeing the other drivers' braking points and if there is standing water it could be difficult. But I am happy to be in first place this evening, and we will just have to wait and see if I am still holding this position tomorrow.”

Overnight leader Dani Sordo meanwhile is second in his Citroen DS3 WRC, having set top-three times in every test thus far, except SS4 when he was fourth: “The balance of the car wasn't perfect [this afternoon] but that's to be expected given the tyre set-up we opted for. I'm pleased with my position – there is still a long way to go in the rally and I'm certain there will be plenty more surprises in store as regards the weather,” Sordo stated.

Jari-Matti Latvala completes the provisional podium for Volkswagen, 1.9 seconds back, but not so happy with his afternoon: “I am disappointed with that performance, I stayed with a soft setup and that was wrong - I should have gone with a stiffer setup. My mistake, not a good idea, but that's the way it is,” stated the Finn.

“We can be very satisfied with third place so far though," he added. "We are fast enough to keep pace with the front-runners without taking too many risks. Our Polo felt very good right from the first stage and we have concentrated on finding a good rhythm.

Related Pictures

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Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)
Thierry Neuville Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Fiesta WRC #11, Qatar World Rally Team)

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October 05, 2013 1:05 AM

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