Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has paid tribute to Philippe Bugalski after the 49-year-old died on Friday following a fall near his home in Vichy.

Bugalski was a Citroen factory driver from 1998-2003 and was the first driver to win a WRC event overall in a Citroen. He also acted as mentor to Loeb, when the future multiple world champion made his WRC debut with the Xsara WRC in Sanremo in 2001.

"I feel really upset by this tragic news," Loeb said. "We've just lost somebody who was incredibly special.

"Beyond his consummate professionalism and talent, I will always remember his human values. 'Bug' was a person with huge spirit, who had time and warmth for everyone. We will all miss him."

Yves Matton, Citro?n Racing's team principal, added: "We have just lost one of our own family and our sadness is at the same level as everything Philippe gave to us: immense. We all knew him and he knew everybody. He was always in a good mood and loved life more than anybody else.

"That makes his sudden passing all the more shocking, and above all our thoughts go out to his family and everyone close to him. The whole of the rally community is mourning his loss."

Crash.net extends its deepest sympathies to Philippe's family and friends at this very difficult time.

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