Qatar World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville increased his overnight lead on Rallye de France this morning and he now heads back for the mid-day service 13.1 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala.

Neuville began the leg with a 9.8 second advantage, and second quickest times in SS8 and SS9 saw him pull further ahead in his M-Sport-run Fiesta RS WRC car, adding another 6.8 seconds to his cushion.

The Belgian had a bit of a moment in the next stage, however, the 19.93 km Soultzeren-Pays Welche test, and was only fifth fastest - conceding 3.5 seconds to his closest rival.

Related Articles

"I'm quite happy with our pace this morning. We've been setting good stage times and extending our lead whilst continuing to check the pacenotes, so that was good," Neuville stated. "We made a small mistake on the last stage [SS10] and lost a bit of time. I was surprised by the lack of grip under braking and I had to use the handbrake. Otherwise it has been another good loop of stages for us.

"It's something different to be first on the road, but it is going OK. We found a good rhythm straight away so it hasn't really been a big problem for us."

Latvala meanwhile was third quickest in the opening two tests of the day and second in SS10 to ensure he remains in touch in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC and very much a threat.

"A big fight is going on. It [SS10] was a very good stage for me, at the end I made a couple of small mistakes attacking too hard. I had understeer in the slow corners, otherwise [it was] good. It should be an interesting battle this afternoon," stated Latvala.

Citroen's Dani Sordo completes the provisional podium, having slipped behind Latvala in SS9. He now trails the Finn by 1.1 seconds: "The downhill [in the last test] was crazy. Thierry is very quick today..." said Sordo.

Sebastien Loeb is next up, 5.6 seconds further back. The Frenchman had a spin in Vallee de Munster 1 and lost around 10 seconds, but he immediately bounced back and took his 900th stage win in the following test: "I made a few mistakes this morning. This time [in SS10] it was okay. Setup is not so bad now, but I still miss confidence," Loeb noted.

Behind, Sebastien Ogier is back on form, winning the first two stages and then going third fastest in Soultzeren-Pays Welche 1.

Evgeny Novikov is a distant sixth, more than 1.5 minutes off the two Sebs in front, followed by Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg, who have both moved ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. Martin Prokop rounds out the top ten.

"I was very careful on the first stage - just building up our pace slowly. But then we tried to push a bit more for the second two stages," Novikov remarked. "There is no need for us to take any unnecessary risks, but honestly, I was hoping to be a little bit faster through SS9 and SS10. I feel as though we are driving well, so it is a little strange."

"We tried to get used to our speed this morning, and at the moment, I feel quite comfortable," Ostberg added. "I think that we need to take the next step now - be a little bit 'uncomfortable' by increasing the speed and then get used to that level. That's the plan.

"We'll make a few small changes in service to try and make the car a bit more balanced because it is pushing too much from the rear where it is slippery in the long corners. Other than that, it's not been a bad morning."

In WRC2, Robert Kubica continues to hold the class lead - and eleventh overall. The former F1 winner is over 3 minutes up on Elfyn Evans. Kubica and Evans shared the stage wins this morning, with Kubica taking the honours in SS9, while Evans was top in SS8 and SS10.

In the other support categories, Quentin Gilbert remains on top in WRC3 and similarly Yeray Lemes still leads the JWRC.

The event now continues this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. The leg then concludes with a run through the 4.65 km Mulhouse test.

Rallye de France-Alsace: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):

1. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1hr 41m 57.8s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 13.1s M
3. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00m 14.2s M
4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 19.8s M
5. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 23.4s M
6. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 52.0s M
7. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 19.9s M
8. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 28.6s M
9. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +02m 34.2s M
10. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 20.1s M


11. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +06m 05.0s WRC2
12. Lionel Baud Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 21.1s
13. Romain Dumas Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07m 36.6s
14. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 22.8s WRC2
15. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T +11m 47.6s WRC3
16. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +12m 14.8s WRC3

Rallye de France-Alsace: Power Stage / SS1 (Top 3):

1. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 03m 20.8s M
2. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 00.7s M
3. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 00.8s M

NOTE: Top three finishers in Power Stage are awarded bonus points. 1st = 3 points; 2nd = 2 points; 3rd = 1 point

WRC2 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC 1h 48m 02.8s WRC2
2. Elfyn Evans Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 17.8s WRC2
3. Rashid Al-Ketbi Ford Fiesta R5 +09m 31.1s WRC2

WRC3 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Quentin Gilbert Citroen DS3 R3T 1h 53m 45.4s WRC3
2. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 27.2s WRC3
3. Keith Cronin Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 18.4s WRC3

JWRC standings after Stage 10 (Top 3)

1. Yeray Lemes Ford Fiesta R2 1h 56m 59.1s JWRC
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 05.4s JWRC
3. Hugo Arellano Ford Fiesta R2 +02m 04.7s JWRC

Notable retirements:

SS2. Tomas Kostka Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical

*denotes re-started under the Rally 2 regulations
M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial