Sebastien Loeb has confirmed that a pace note error was to blame for his off in SS13 of the Rally Japan on Saturday after his co-driver, Daniel Elena called out the wrong instructions.

Loeb began the second leg just 10 seconds or so off the lead and it was nip and tuck between the Frenchman and BP Ford's Mikko Hirvonen in SS11 and SS12, with less than a second between them in both stages. However it all went wrong for Seb in Niueo 1 when he slid into a ditch and was unable to re-join.

Speaking about the incident, Loeb was clearly disappointed, especially as he was in a good position to re-take the lead in the race for the 2007 drivers' title, following Marcus Gronholm's exit on day 1.

"After Marcus's retirement yesterday, even finishing second would have given us enough points to regain the lead in the Drivers' championship. I felt very confident following the changes we made to the set-up of my Citroen C4 yesterday and, although I wasn't taking any undue risks, I hadn't given up the idea of trying to take the lead. Then, approaching a right-hand corner, Daniel got a note wrong and we were too quick into the turn," Loeb confirmed.

"We swiped a tree with the rear left of the car and fell down a bank. The front end of the car came to a stop in some branches but the rear wheels were still on the stage.

"The car was practically unscathed and we did all we could to manhandle it back onto the road, but to no avail. It's a tremendous disappointment of course but we are still in contention for the title. The idea of now having to win both the remaining rounds is quite stimulating."

Asked about the incident in more detail, Loeb added that while it is a blow, he isn't too upset with Elena.

"I'm disappointed, but I cannot blame Daniel too much: it was the only pace-note mistake he has made in more than ten years of our being together," Seb continued.

"My system includes, for each speed qualification, some adjustments, going from 'minus-minus', to 'plus-plus'. The fatal corner was noted as 'minus-minus' and he announced 'plus-plus', meaning more or less 30kph faster than it should have been. I immediately knew that it wouldn't work.

"We hit a bank and ended on the other side, nose deep down in the ditch. The car was fine, but with no spectators around, we had no possibility to put it back on the road. Game over."