Mads Ostberg has apologised to Citroen after an error on the final day of Rally Italia Sardegna saw him squander a seemingly safe third place.

Ostberg moved up to third on Saturday afternoon, when M-Sport's Ott Tanak was sidelined by transmission issues.

He then began Sunday's leg more than 30 seconds up on Thierry Neuville, but an off in the opening test of the day, the 11.13 km Olmedo Monte Baranta test, when he got distracted after losing an earplug, cost him dear.

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It left his DS 3 WRC with damaged suspension and brakes, costing him third straight away and then fourth in the following test. He also came under pressure from Jari-Matti Latvala, but managed to hang on to secure fifth.

"A lot happened at the same time," Ostberg said afterwards. "I lost an earplug, and was trying to put it back in when I went wide in a corner and off the road.

"I'm disappointed to lose third. It's been a very hard rally. A big mistake from me earlier and I'm sorry to the team for that as they worked very hard."

Speaking back in service, Ostberg reiterated that the off in SS20 was purely his fault, although he also revealed that a bad pace note played a part too.

"I simply made a mistake and it has ended up costing us a podium spot," he continued. "Sometimes, you manage to get away with an overly optimistic pace note, but that wasn't the case today.

"The corner was very tight and I ran too wide into a rock hidden behind a bush. We damaged the rear right-hand suspension and the brakes when we hit it.

"We then spent our time repairing the car and trying to nurse it to the finish. So I'm pleased to have made it to the end of the rally.

"After a series of very rough events, I can't wait now to tackle the faster, smoother stages at Rally Poland [in three weeks time]."