Well, this decision in France was taken months ago. It has something to do with filming permits – the power stage finished in front of a landmark building in Strasbourg, and since the power stage is televised live, it seems they could only get the permits for the Friday. And since it’s Sebastien Loeb’s last rally, the organisers probably wanted the live stage at the start of the event.
It’s only pure chance that Neuville was in the title fight at this point, anyway. And maybe it’s for the best – now that Ogier has been declared champion, we can get down to a straight fight between him and Loeb on the fastest tarmac rally of the year.