Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb saw his hopes of taking the win on the inaugural WRC event in Jordan disappear in a bizarre incident this morning following the third test of the day.

Loeb, who had stormed into a 34 second lead, after winning the opening three tests, was sidelined in a head-on collision with Conrad Rautenbach's similar C4 WRC car.

The accident occurred on a narrow two-way access road leading to and from SS11, the 15.19 kilometre-run through Shuna 1.

Although nobody was injured, both were forced out on the spot and it now looks likely that the Frenchman will lose the lead in the race for the 2008 drivers' crown.

"We decided to push hard this morning to try to move into the lead. Our Citro?n C4 WRC was very competitive and I was feeling particularly comfortable," said Seb.

"We had just come out of the eleventh stage and were heading for the following test when we collided with another car which was on its way to SS11.

"It was a narrow road and there were lots of places where we couldn't see much of the road. There wasn't room for two cars. It's an unfortunate blow which has put an end to our run for today.

"The team will now do all it can to make the necessary repairs and, if it's worth it, we will re-start under the SupeRally ruling tomorrow. I am obviously very disappointed for everyone in the team because our day had started well - we had moved into the lead and our C4 was going so well. It's also a tough blow for the Drivers' championship but this is only the fifth round of the season. A great deal can still happen."

Rautenbach meanwhile was very apologetic, but maintained it wasn't his fault and that it was just a simple accident.

"I'm really sorry for Sebastien and for Citroen, both of whom are fighting to win this event and the championship," added the Zimbabwean.

"Sebastien had pushed really hard to get into a good position and to build a good lead. It's really unfortunate. I'm pretty fed-up myself - I'm out of day two as well. It was an accident, nobody's fault."