18 July 2004
Sainz takes historic 26th win in Argentina.
Citroen's Carlos Sainz cruised through the final leg of the Rally Argentina today [Sunday] to win by 1 minute 32.5 seconds and become the most successful rally driver in history.
This was his 26th world rally victory, edging one ahead of ex-Ford driver Colin McRae. The Spaniard, who hadn't won since last year's Rally of Turkey, was delighted with the result, promising that it wouldn't be his last.
"The record is important, but more important than that is the victory and the way it came," he reflected. "On the last rally I didn't feel so well and after that rally I wasn't very happy. It was not my fault. Before this rally I thought I had to make a good rally and I did that. I won here 13 years ago, two years ago and I am winning again here is more important than the number. I would like to thank the team and Michelin. The car was great. I'm really happy to be part of this."
Team-mate Sebastien Loeb meanwhile was second in the sister Xsara WRC to extend his championship lead to 17 points. The Frenchman now has 61 points, whilst his nearest rival, Petter Solberg has 44.
Citroen team boss, Guy Frequelin was delighted with the one-two - especially as it increased their advantage over Ford in the manufacturers'.
"I'm very happy from this rally,2 said Frequelin in the post-event press conference. "First for Carlos and Marc, because they won the rally. Carlos is a very good emperor for us, for the team, to develop the car. He was very unlucky last year and I'm very happy for him now. I am very happy for Sebastien and Daniel, they have eight points more in the championship for the drivers and I'm very happy for the team because we are scoring 18 points for the manufacturers."
Francois Duval was next up, to notch up his third podium of the season. Although he was a way behind Loeb, he had a just as much of a margin to Mikko Hirvonen, who finished fourth. The Belgian therefore cruised to the finish in his Focus.
"It's a great result for the team, especially after Markko's bad crash," noted Duval. "The car hasn't been so easy to drive but we've had no real problems and I made no mistakes. The roads were difficult, especially yesterday and today. There were many new stages for me as it's only my second time here so I've not pushed too hard and I'm delighted to be on the podium. It's incredible to see the huge crowds and it's been great to drive in front of so many people."
Behind Hirvonen, Harri Rovanpera and Argentine private entrant Luiz Perez Companc maintained their overnight placings to finish fifth and sixth. Rovanpera admitted though that he didn't have a lot to drive for today.
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