1 May 2005
Loeb dominates in Sardinia.
Citroen team leader, Sebastien Loeb has won the Rally Italia Sardinia today [Sunday], taking the victory by 59.6 seconds.
The Frenchman dominated the event, and led ever since Marcus Gronholm rolled in SS3.
It's his third win of the season and his second on the trot following his win in NZ at the start of last month. It also puts him in the lead in the drivers' championship.
"I was careful not to make any mistakes today," said Loeb, "while keeping a close eye on the times of my closest chaser, Petter Solberg. Winning back to back in New Zealand and here in Sardinia has put us back in the lead of the championship and promises some exciting battles to come!"
Petter Solberg took the runners-up spot, best of the rest, but in truth the Norwegian never looked likely to challenge Loeb. However having started first on the road on Friday, the Subaru ace was somewhat handicapped.
"In the circumstances it's good to take second place," said 'Hollywood'. "It's been a good fight with Sebastien, but of course I'd hoped it would be a lot closer. But, it didn't happen like that and so I've got the best result I could. The key thing we have to do is work harder to find some more performance, but we have a good plan and I'm 100 per cent confident that we will succeed."
Gronholm took the final spot on the podium - after putting in a fantastic recovery drive after falling to 22nd overall on day one, when he went off the road. He finished over a minute ahead of his Peugeot team-mate, Markko Martin, who came home fourth.
"It's been a tough rally - maybe the toughest of the year - but the car has once more been perfectly reliable which is very encouraging," said the Finn. "Now I would like to find a bit more speed."
Peugeot'' 3-4 finish ensured the French manufacturer remains top in the constructors' championship, 11 points ahead of Citroen.
Ford's Toni Gardemeister finished fifth, after having had a new oil pump fitted to his Focus overnight, while Roman Kresta was next up in the second registered car to ensure the 'Blue-oval' extended its points-scoring record to 49 consecutive events.
"I can't believe it," said Kresta. "It was vital for both me and the team to finish this rally. Just being here at the end was my primary target. I've driven very, very carefully and it paid off. Not only did I finish, but I finished in the points and took my best result."
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