Stage data: SS9, Masif des Grands Crus - Ungersberg 1 (18.16 kilometres)
By Citroen Junior World Rally Team co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “There is a new part in this stage but 80 or 90 per cent is known to the drivers. The beginning is a bit tricky with a few kilometres in the vineyards. The new part is in a small village with very sharp and tight corners. The finish of the stage, the second part, is more fast and with more grip on wide roads but it’s in the forest so it can be a bit damp early in the morning. It’s very beautiful for the drivers because you have a bit of everything.”
How the action unfolded:
Petter Solberg’s bid for a podium finish on Rallye de France Alsace is over after the Ford driver went off the road on Saturday’s opening stage.
Solberg started day two 0.7s behind Mikko Hirvonen in the fight for third place only to shoot off the road on a fast left-hand bend into a vineyard where he struck and felled a telegraph pole as he battled to regain control of his Fiesta RS WRC.
There were no such problems for Sebastien Loeb who has grown his overall lead on the FIA World Rally Championship round to 15.2s after going faster than closest rival Jari-Matti Latvala by 2.1s.
“It was very difficult,” said the Citroen DS3 WRC driver. “There are some very fast and bumpy sections at the end of the stage, which I don’t like. It was a good start to the stage but the end I don’t like.”
Conversely, Latvala said he was happier with his performance at the end of the run after struggling initially in his Fiesta RS WRC.
Hirvonen, meanwhile, impressed by completing the stage 1.9s slower than Citroen team-mate Loeb. Solberg’s misfortune has propelled Dani Sordo into fourth, albeit with a slender margin of 2.1s over the pursuing Belgian Thierry Neuville. The Spaniard was delayed when he came to a stop in his Prodrive MINI after hitting a rock at a hairpin.
Russian Evgeny Novikov lost time missing a junction in his M-Sport Fiesta.