Qatar World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville has said it was ultimately his own fault that he failed to secure his maiden win on Rallye de France last weekend.

Neuville completed the first-full day of competition on Friday with a 9.9 second lead over Dani Sordo and on Saturday morning proceeded to stretch that cushion to 13.1 seconds. However on a puncture on the second pass through Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan 2 in the afternoon cost the Belgian over a minute and he dropped back to fifth.

He eventually finished in P4 overall in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car, gaining a place on the final day when Sebastien Loeb rolled out.

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"Obviously I am disappointed having had the opportunity to take my first win this weekend, but I have to accept it," Neville remarked. "I think that we had a really good weekend and we have definitely shown that we have the speed and the car to win rallies. I feel sorry for the team because I think I could have won here.

"Ultimately it was my mistake - just 10 centimetres wide in one corner. Of course it's a shame, but both 'Sebs' were here [Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb], and we were beating them, so I have to be happy with that.

"Again I need to thank the entire M-Sport team for everything they have done this weekend. This is our eleventh event in the team and we have not had a single problem with the car all season.

"We know that we have everything we need to secure a win this season, so now we just need to go out there and get it."

M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson added: "It's obviously a big disappointment that Thierry and Nicolas [Gilsoul, his co-driver] were not able to take their first victory here this weekend - especially after dominating the first half of the event to such an extent - but there is no question that their first win is not far away.

"The way Thierry recovered after the disappointment and went on to continue to set fastest times is testament to both him and the Fiesta RS WRC.

"We know that the car is competitive on both gravel and tarmac, and the whole team is now really looking forward to Spain where we can go and challenge for the victory once again."

Meanwhile, Neuville's team-mates, Evgeny Novikov and Mads Ostberg came home fifth and eighth respectively in their Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC cars.

Novikov had a very solid event, while Ostberg would have finished in sixth, but he lost over a minute in SS18, when he went off and his car got lodged on a junction.

"Fifth place is quite good result for us, and I think the best we could have achieved this weekend," Novikov reflected. "Generally it was a good event - our driving was good and I felt confident on the stages which I know quite well. I hope that we can continue to progress like this at the final two events."

"I was definitely more comfortable as the event went on," added Ostberg, "and the speed was getting better and better which is a good thing. Of course this afternoon didn't go the way we would have wanted it to, but sometimes things do not always go to plan.

"It is always frustrating when something like that happens - especially when everything was going in the right direction. But if you look at what we have done this weekend, I think it was a big improvement which I hope to continue building on in Spain."