Stage data: SS20, Vignoble de Cleebourg 2 - POWER STAGE (17.08 kilometres)
By Citroen Junior World Rally Team co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul: “We enjoy a lot this stage, it will be the Power Stage for the second loop. It’s a different style this stage, a bit like what you find in Belgium and the Ypres Rally with a lot of 90-degree junctions, very sharp. The road is always very narrow, bumpy with a lot of cuts and gravel on the road, especially for the second loop. After this we go to the passage control in the place where Sebastien Loeb grew up, Oberhoffen-sur-Moder. It’s very important you go here and if not you have to retire because it’s obligatory.”
How the action unfolded:
Ott Tanak has won the Rallye de France Alsace Power Stage to secure three FIA World Rally Championship bonus points in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Citroen DS3 WRC driver Thierry Neuville was second quickest to claim two bonus points with Mads Ostberg landing the final bonus point at the wheel of his Fiesta as the leading trio - Sebastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen - elected not to push in order to maintain their podium spots.
It was Tanak’s first Power Stage victory and ends Neuville’s run of stage wins on the Strasbourg-based round today. “Ott pushed quite hard but my time was good,” said Neuville. “I took no risks because I want to stay on the road and finish in fourth place.”
Mads Ostberg said he tried to push in his efforts to catch fourth-placed Neuville but admitted the muddy conditions held him back. He plans to continue attacking on the closing tests to reverse the 5.7s deficit to Neuville.
Event leader Loeb, who is closing on WRC title number nine, was 8.1s slower than Tanak. His advantage over second-placed Latvala stands at 19.5s with two stages remaining.
Dani Sordo did not start the stage following his MINI’s power steering failure on stage 19. With no service available today, his Prodrive team has confirmed the Spaniard’s exit on safety grounds.
Traditionally run as the closing stage on WRC rounds, event organisers in France nominated the 17.08-kilometre Vignoble de Cleebourg test as the Power Stage instead. The leading runners after stage 19, Haguenau, tackled the stage in reverse order with Martin Prokop going first in his privateer Fiesta. Although the morning rain has subsided, the stage surface remained damp with several muddy sections making driving conditions tricky.