Despite talking down his victory chances pre-event, the Belgian held a clear lead during the second leg of last week’s Rallye de France - Alsace. However, he slid wide in Saturday afternoon’s opening stage, punctured a tyre on his Ford Fiesta RS and plunged to fifth.
Neuville eventually finished fourth, breaking an impressive run of five podium finishes stretching back to the Acropolis Rally of Greece, which included four consecutive second places.
His pace and consistency has carried him into second in the drivers’ standings and the hottest property on the end of season transfer market.
“I wanted to show I could have won this rally,” he said. “It’s a big disappointment for me but I accept this. There are two more opportunities this year in Catalunya and Britain to show we can win.
“It was only one mistake but it was one mistake too many. Sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are not. We had the speed and I’m happy we were on the pace with the top drivers, including both Sebastiens (Ogier and Loeb).
“I have to be positive. It was the first time we have driven for victory and we had a big gap at the front. I want to win a rally this year and I will do everything to achieve this goal,” he added.
“It was only one mistake but it was one mistake too many"