28 August 2005
Loeb maintains German run with fourth win.
Citroen team leader, Sebastien Loeb has won the Rallye Deutschland, leading from the off on Friday, to claim the victory by 37.4 seconds.
Loeb managed to win 13 of the 19 stages - and could probably have won more if he hadn't eased off through the final day.
The Frenchman was in P1 throughout the event, apart from after SS3, when Francois Duval briefly went in front.
Other than that though it was a dominant display one that extends his lead in the drivers' championship and gives him his fourth successive triumph in Germany, after also winning the event in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He now leads the drivers' championship by 32 points with just 50 still up for grabs.
Francois Duval took second, to give Citroen the perfect result and not to mention help them into the lead in the Constructors' championship, 6 points ahead of Peugeot. The Belgian put in easily his best performance of the year and was in contention for the win on Friday. However he opted to play it safe, rather than risk going for the victory and potentially crashing out. After his season to date, most noticeably his two event 'break', it was a welcome boost and one that bodes well for Citroen as they look to beat Peugeot to the manufacturers' crown.
Peugeot team leader, Marcus Gronholm was 'best of the rest' in third, however the Finn never looked likely to challenge the Xsaras and was the first to admit it. He held a lonely third from day one, and eventually finished nearly 2 minutes off Loeb - and 2 minutes up on his team-mate, Markko Martin, who took fourth.
Martin had a less clear cut event, with a few issues on day one, however he still recovered to put in another solid result. He also maintained his run of finishing in the points in every event this year, the only driver to have done so.
The big battle Sunday was between Roman Kresta and Gigi Galli for fifth. Heading into the final leg just 2.4 seconds separated the two, and following the morning's first loop of tests the gap came down to 0.6 seconds. In the end though, Galli came out top by 8.7 seconds, having won SS17 - and gone quicker in both the final two tests. In the process the Italian notched up his best ever WRC result.
Petter Solberg took seventh to secure two championship points, which was some consolation for the Norwegian after gearshift problems on Saturday dropped him from fourth overall to 12th. His Subaru team-mate Stephane Sarrazin took the final point, after shinning in the sister Impreza. The ex-F1 driver had been down in 14th following the opening leg, after his handbrake lever broke in SS3 and then he went off the road in SS5, but he stormed back on day two and would have took two points, not one, if he hadn't had a driveshaft problem in SS17.
Further down the pack, Xavier Pons won the privateer battle in his OMV backed, Kronos' Racing Citroen Xsara WRC, while Mitsubishi team leader, Harri Rovanpera completed the top ten, after a rather lacklustre performance. Although granted he hadn't driven on asphalt for some time.
Of the remaining works drivers, Chris Atkinson was eleventh on his first proper tarmac rally, while Toni Gardemeister was classified 19th. The Finn losing any chance of a points finish, when he had electrical problems on Saturday, something that cost him over 20 minutes.
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