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STOP PRESS: Loeb wins Rally Finland.

Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb came through the final three stages on Sunday to take the victory on the Neste Oil Rally Finland for the very first time.

Loeb, who said prior to the event that winning in Jyvaskyla was one of his targets this year, led from start to finish, grabbing the lead on Thursday night in the short Killeri super special.

In total the Frenchman won ten of the eleven stages on day 1 to establish a 14.4 second lead over pre-event favourite Mikko Hirvonen. On Saturday - the longest day of the event - it was nip and tuck between Seb and Mikko and it wasn't until the final loop that the four-time world champion finally inched further in front.

Going into Sunday's short finale, it was always going to be a bit of a formality, and while Loeb spun in the penultimate test, his 18.2 second cushion was more than sufficient to ensure he took the maximum ten points.

In the end he won by 9 seconds, and he now closes to within a point of taking the lead in the drivers' championship. He also joins an exclusive club as prior to this weekend only six non-Finns had won the event in 57 years - and only three non-Nordic drivers.

Hirvonen meanwhile kept Seb honest throughout and never gave up, but like last year, when he was battling with Marcus Gronholm, the 28-year-old just didn't quite have what it took to take P1.

Both however were very much in a class of their own and Chris Atkinson, who took the final spot on the podium, was more than 3 minutes further back.

Further down the order Dani Sordo opted not to try and push on the final leg for P3 and settled for fourth in the #2 Citroen C4 WRC car. Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg and his brother Petter rounded out the top six, while Matti Rantanen was an impressive seventh in his privately entered Ford Focus. Toni Gardemeister took the final drivers' point in eighth for Suzuki, a solid start for the updated 'B-spec' SX4 WRC.

Britain's Matthew Wilson and Citroen privateer Conrad Rautenbach completed the top ten, while Jari-Matti Latvala finished well down the field after his error in SS3 on day 1. He did though scoop the final manufacturers' point, which was a small consolation for Ford.

Stobart Ford's Gigi Galli, Suzuki's Per-Gunnar Andersson, Munchi's Ford WRT duo Federico Villagra and Luis-Perez Companc were the most notable retirees.

Full report and result to follow...


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - 1st place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team, 2nd place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Manuel Fenoli (ITA) HYUNDAI i20 R5, ACI TEAM ITALIA
21.05.2017 - HIROKI ARAI (JPN) - GLENN MACNEALL (AUS) FORD FIESTA R5, TOMMI MÄKINEN RACING
21.05.2017 - HIROKI ARAI (JPN) - GLENN MACNEALL (AUS) FORD FIESTA R5, TOMMI MÄKINEN RACING
21.05.2017 - TEEMU SUNINEN (FIN) - MIKKO MARKKULA (FIN) FORD FIESTA R5, M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - JEAN-MICHEL RAOUX (FRA) - THOMAS ESCARTEFIGUE (FRA) CITROEN DS3 WRC
21.05.2017 - Valeriy Gorban (UKR)-Sergei Larens (EST) BMW‐Mini John Cooper Works, Eurolamp World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Martin Prokop (CZE) - Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC, ONEBET JIPOCAR WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - Martin Prokop (CZE) - Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC, ONEBET JIPOCAR WORLD RALLY TEAM
21.05.2017 - SHEIK KHALID AL QASSIMI (ARE) - CHRIS PATTERSON (GBR) CITROEN C3 WRC, CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
21.05.2017 - SHEIK KHALID AL QASSIMI (ARE) - CHRIS PATTERSON (GBR) CITROEN C3 WRC, CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
21.05.2017 - Mads Ostberg (NOR)-Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Mads Ostberg (NOR)-Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Essapeka Lappi (FIN) Janne Ferm (FIN), TOYOTA YARIS WRC, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING WRT

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rich ard

August 03, 2008 4:21 PM

thanh nguyen, were you actually watching the rally coverage? hardly boring! even hirvonen was saying that the speeds were idiotically fast. seb is a great driver and whereas the citroen is not as fast overall as the focus at present, his sheer ability won the event

Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

August 03, 2008 12:04 PM

I think this Rally was anything but Boring, I first have to say well done to Sebastien for a well deserved victory, of course I wanted to see Jari Matti or Mikko win, but you have to say that the way that Seb drove made him a deserved winner. who knows, maybe Mikko will win in Germany and even things up (Joking !!!) lol



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