Sebastien Loeb came through to take the victory on the Jordan Rally today, his second win of the season and a result that strengthens his lead in the battle for the 2010 WRC drivers' title.
Loeb moved into P1 on Friday afternoon, when Jari-Matti Latvala
was unable to hold the Frenchman back, suffering running first on the road and sweeping away the loose gravel.
Seb started the final leg with over a 20 second advantage and he then stretched that to 37.8 seconds this morning, thanks to three stage wins from a possible four. He then maintained his stranglehold on the lead on the repeat loop, eventually coming home 35.8 seconds up on Latvala.
It wasn't a straightforward victory however, and the Dead Sea-based round turned out to be rather tactical as drivers' jostled for position and tried to avoid having to play the road sweeper.
Indeed Loeb should have been first in the order today – and Latvala third – but in the end Sebastien Ogier
ended up running at the front after he picked up two penalties to aid his Citroen
team-mate. Ford also employed the same sort of measures with Mikko Hirvonen, who had re-started under the SupeRally format after his off on day two, eventually slotting in to run third and crucially, ahead of Latvala.
Despite all that though, Loeb said he was still pleased to win and he now has a 25-point lead in the 2010 WRC drivers' championship. Citroen
also leads the manufacturers' - 101 points to BP Ford
Abu Dhabi's 87.
"It has been a great weekend," said Loeb. "It's a very difficult rally, very hard and very fast - there were a lot of stones. It was a good fight. I'm really delighted to be here."
Latvala meanwhile was also content: "I'm still happy. Okay we couldn't try for the victory but finishing second is good for me, it's a good result," said the Finn, who moves up to second in the rankings, with 6 more points than Hirvonen. "It's definitely boosted my confidence now so maybe now we can be more of a challenge for Loeb."
Away from the battle for P1, Petter Solberg
grabbed the final spot on the podium, albeit 36 seconds off P2 – and only really gaining the position after Ogier seemingly became Citroen's sacrificial lamb.