Reigning world champion, Sebastien Loeb has emerged victorious for the second year running on the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse, the fifth round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Frenchman led from the off on Friday and although he didn't utterly dominate it like he did last year, he was still in a class of his own and while Marcus Gronholm looked a threat early on, the Finn's challenge soon faded.

Indeed Loeb managed to win six of the events 12 stages, finally taking the victory by just under 30 seconds after pacing himself over the third and final day.

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The win, his third of the season, further extends his lead at the top of the drivers' championship. He now has an 11 point advantage, with nearly a third of the season done and dusted.

Gronholm meanwhile while strong, just couldn't match the pace of the Xsara and had to settle for the runners-up spot. The Finn ended the event on a high though by winning the final two tests, to bring his total to three on the event.

Daniel Sordo hung on to take the final spot on the podium, around 10 seconds in front on Mikko Hirvonen. The Spaniard's acclimatization to a WRC car has been remarkable and following his first ever 'senior' podium in Spain two weeks ago, he has now added a second to his record. The 2005 Junior WRC champion has certainly made is mark since starting the year with the Kronos ran Xsara in Monte Carlo.

Hirvonen, while somewhat disappointed to miss out on third, was conscious of scoring manufacturers' points for BP Ford. To date his form has been a bit below par and fourth is his best result of the year.

Further down the order, Alex Bengue was fifth in his privately entered Peugeot 307. The Frenchman ended the first day third, but dropped back on Saturday due to handling problems. Nevertheless it was another solid result for the former Skoda ace.

Xavier Pons came in sixth for Kronos Citroen, combining with Loeb to give the Belgian squad 15 points from the event, which keeps them top in the manufacturers' race, 3 points ahead of Ford.

Manfred Stohl and Stephane Sarrazin completed the provisional points' scorers, the latter the best of the Subaru's, although the Banbury based squad were again off the pace and will no doubt be eager to move onto the next event in Argentina, which will see a return to gravel. Petter Solberg could managed only eleventh place in the lead Impreza, while Chris Atkinson was down in 13th in the third car, after problems on day one.

Gigi Galli and Jan Kopecky were ninth and tenth, the former going well on his debut in the Pirelli backed Peugeot 307. The Italian, who had to sit out the events in Mexico and Spain, after competing in Monte Carlo and Sweden with a Lancer WRC run by Ralliart Italy, was pleased to be back in the fold. It was very much a learning event though and so a top ten finish was a solid result.

Of the other works drivers, Harri Rovanpera was twelfth for Red Bull Skoda, after being drafted in to replace Gilles Panizzi. The Finn, who was suffering from a cold on Friday and who celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday, was taking in his first rally of the year and considering he is more a gravel driver, he didn't disgrace himself on his maiden outing with the Fabia.

Rovanpera's team-mate, Andreas Aigner took the final manufacturers' point, 15th overall. The Austrian re-started Sunday under the SupeRally format and despite a spin in the first test following a puncture, made it to the finish.

Matthew Wilson was the only other 'works' driver to finish, bringing his Stobart VK Ford home in 16th, 20 seconds or so adrift. His team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, was unable to re-start on Sunday as his car was too badly damaged following his off on SS6. The Finn, who injured his thumb in the incident, had been going well and was seventh overall when he went out.

Former Citroen works driver, Francois Duval was the only other notable retirement in a WRC car, the Belgian going off in the final stage on Saturday.

In the Junior WRC, Urmo Aava looked to be on course to take his maiden win in the category, until he hit problems in the last stage. As such Brice Tirabassi took the victory, over 1 minute ahead of Aava's Suzuki Swift. Conrad Rautenbach completed the JWRC podium in his Renault Clio, while Julien Pressac was fourth and Jozef Beres fifth.

Britain's Kris Meeke was unable to re-start on Sunday after mechanical problems in SS7 and as a result he did not score, despite having dominated the class up to that point.

The WRC now takes a three-week break, before the next event in Argentina at the end of this month.