Sebastien Loeb suffered only his second Castrol EDGE Rankings fall in 10 months as he crashed out from the lead of this year’s Rally d’Italia.
The Frenchman had been in an epic lead battle with Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen when he hit rocks, damaged his steering and wad forced to retire.
In his absence Hirvonen took full control, eventually clinching what was his first victory for Citroen.
As a result he soared in the Rankings order, moving up nine spots to 12th, once again on the fringes of a top 10 breakthrough.
As Hirvonen aims for a single-figure classification, Loeb had the potential for one last Rankings hurrah, with the number one spot within his reach.
He would have had to finish the season in perfect fashion – not necessarily beyond his capability – but also hope Sebastian Vettel continued his early 2012 form.
As it is Vettel has now won the last three straight races, strengthening his hold at the top, while Loeb’s Italian exit has effectively cost him any hope of displacing the German.
The Frenchman now sits fifth, having surrendered position to Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso following his crash.
Loeb was not the only one to fall off however, with Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala also crashing.
Latvala had entered the season’s penultimate round in 13th, well clear of Hirvonen, who was 21st.
As a result of their contrasting fortunes however the situation has now been reversed, with Hirvonen’s gains directly opposed to an eight-place slid for Latvala.
The Ford man now occupies 21st, his lowest Ranking in two months.
His team-mate Petter Solberg also crashed out, but with nothing to defend under the rollover system still managed to climb four spots to 44th.
His exit had other implications as it opened up the final two steps on the podium.
The first was claimed by Evgeny Novikov, who duly leapt 10 places to an all-time high of 65th.
Ott Tanak meanwhile secured the rostrum’s final step, vaulting a massive 30 points to his own personal best of 87th.
There were gains too for Mads Ostberg and Sebastien Ogier, fourth and fifth on the road.
Ostberg stands as the fourth-highest WRC driver in the Rankings, a five-place gain carrying him to 33rd overall.
Ogier meanwhile managed to arrest his recent slide – the legacy of his one-year spell in S2000 – by gaining 16 spots and moving back up to 83rd.
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