Stage data: SS5, Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan 2 (28.67 kilometres)
By Citroen Junior World Rally Team co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “This is a very nice and fast stage and a combination of two old stages. There is a lot of grip, the road is wide and it’s fun to drive if the road stays dry. It will be very fast. The beginning is like an uphill race, then we have a small part in vineyard before the finish in a downhill section.”
How the action unfolded:
Sebastien Loeb has responded to Jari-Matti Latvala’s threat by winning stage five of Rallye de France Alsace.
The French driver was 6.3s quicker than Latvala - the winner of the previous stage - on the repeat of the Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan test to pull 13.8s clear in the chase for glory on round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.
“The road was okay, more dry than in the morning,” said Citroen ace Loeb, who is running on hard-compound Michelin tyres like the bulk of his rivals. “There was a bit more mud on the road in some places but we had good information from the gravel crew so we know where it is. Jari-Matti is going very fast so we have to push.”
Ford pilot Latvala said he lost time going off the road and running through a ditch: “We went wide on a left-hander where there was gravel on the road. I tried to get the line and stay away from the cuts but I went out into a ditch for quite a while.”
Petter Solberg said he was more confident behind the wheel of his Fiesta. He completed the stage 3.4s slower than Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen was 3.9s slower than Loeb and frustrated after reporting several corner marking posts had moved following the pre-event reconnaissance. Mads Ostberg, meanwhile, said the set-up of his Fiesta was too low to the ground, which resulted in a loss of time.
Thierry Neuville has dropped from fourth to sixth following a spin in his Citroen. Solberg climbs from sixth to fourth while Dani Sordo continues to hold fifth overall in his MINI, despite saying he wasn’t happy with the handling of his car.