Citroen's Dani Sordo has moved up into the lead on Rallye de France, after Thierry Neuville picked up a puncture in SS11 and dropped back.
Neuville had increased his overnight advantage from 9.8 seconds to 13.1 seconds after the morning loop. However disaster struck on the first stage after lunch, the 28.48 km Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan 2 test, when the Qatar World Rally Team man slid wide at a right-hand junction in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC and hit a stone, knocking the left-rear tyre of the rim. The tyre then deflated and the Belgian lost over a minute as a result, slipping down to fifth.
"I punctured at the rear left at the beginning of the stage on a fast junction. I must have hit something," Neuville admitted. "We damaged the tyre and finished on the rim as I didn't want to stop to change the wheel."
Neuville's misfortune has handed Sordo the lead, although the Citroen man is only just ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, with 0.6 seconds between them post-SS13 - the final 'proper' test of the day.
"I feel sorry for Neuville because he has done a great job up to now," said Sordo. "This incident could happen to any of us...”
"Not easy I can tell you!" Latvala remarked after SS13, "especially in cuts its been difficult for me. There was a couple of nasty places - there was mud on the road and I don't like it at all. Generally when the tarmac is clean there is decent grip, some places are slippery though, so you need to have a margin. Now we try to get through the final stage. Tomorrow is a long day but we need to be clever too!"
New World Rally Champion, Sebastien Ogier completes the provisional podium, firmly in victory contention and only 2 seconds off his VW team-mate after going quickest in both SS11 and SS12.
Sebastien Loeb holds fourth and he is also very much in the frame in terms of the win, 3 seconds adrift of his compatriot and only 5.5 seconds off the sister car of Sordo.
Behind, after Neuville in fifth, Evgeny Novikov is a lonely sixth for the Qatar M-Sport WRT, just under a minute off P5 and around 30 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen in seventh.
Mads Ostberg rounds out the top ten, with Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop ninth and tenth.
In WRC2, Robert Kubica continues to lead, more than 3 minutes up on Elfyn Evans, while Quentin Gilbert is top in WRC3 and Pontus Tidemand now heads the JWRC after Yeray Lemes lost over 2 minutes in SS11.
Saturday's leg now concludes with a run through the 4.65 km Mulhouse test, which is scheduled to start at 18.00 hours local time [17.00 hours UK time].
Rallye de France-Alsace: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Dani Sordo
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hr 15m 21.6s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 00.6s
3. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 02.6s
4. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 05.5s
5. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 09.4s
6. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 09.3s
7. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 40.1s
8. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 53.0s
9. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +03m 17.1s
10. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 16.2s
11. Robert Kubica
Citroen DS3 RRC +07m 37.2s
12. Lionel Baud
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +09m 13.5s
13. Romain Dumas
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +09m 27.8s
14. Elfyn Evans
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +10m 53.9s
15. Quentin Gilbert
Citroen DS3 R3T +15m 26.3s
16. Sebastien Chardonnet
Citroen DS3 R3T +15m 49.2s
Rallye de France-Alsace: Power Stage / SS1 (Top 3):
1. Dani Sordo
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 03m 20.8s
2. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 00.7s
3. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 00.8s
NOTE: Top three finishers in Power Stage are awarded bonus points. 1st = 3 points; 2nd = 2 points; 3rd = 1 point
WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Robert Kubica
Citroen DS3 RRC 2h 22m 58.8s
2. Elfyn Evans
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 16.7s
3. Rashid Al-Ketbi
Ford Fiesta R5 +12m 26.1s
WRC3 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Quentin Gilbert
Citroen DS3 R3T 2h 30m 47.9s
2. Sebastien Chardonnet
Citroen DS3 R3T +00m 22.9s
3. Keith Cronin
Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 32.1s
JWRC standings after Stage 13 (Top 3)
1. Pontus Tidemand
Ford Fiesta R2 2h 37m 08.3s
2. Hugo Arellano
Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 49.5s
3. Marius Aasen
Ford Fiesta R2 +01m 17.9s
SS2. Tomas Kostka
Citroen DS3 WRC Mechanical
*denotes re-started under the Rally 2 regulations
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial