Mexico - day 3: Three in a row for Loeb.

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb took the victory on the Corona Rally Mexico for the third time in as many years on Sunday, when he brought his C4 WRC car to the finish in P1.

Loeb however didn't have it easy and Jari-Matti Latvala, fresh from his maiden win in Sweden last month, made him work for it.

Early on it was the Finn that took the initiative and he grabbed the lead in the very first stage and finished the first loop on Friday 4.4 seconds in front. Seb then slipped further back in the afternoon and at the end of the opening day was 9.6 seconds adrift.

On Saturday however the momentum swung the other way and with Latvala running first on the road and having to sweep away the loose gravel, Seb pounced cutting the margin to just 0.1 seconds in SS9, the first stage of the leg.

The Frenchman then went in front in SS10 and pulled further and further ahead. He had a 12.9 seconds cushion post-SS12.

SS13 ended up being the turning point however and when Latvala lost time with a broken turbo charge pipe - something that cost him over a minute in Duarte 2 and another minute in SS14 - Seb was all but assured of the win.

The four-time world champion then just paced himself through the short final day, which ended up being even shorter, after SS18, the 22.30 kilometre-run through Guanajuatito was cancelled due to the volume of spectators.

Loeb eventually won, to replicate the victories he achieved in Mexico in 2007 and 2006, by just over a minute. The result puts him back within touching distance of Mikko Hirvonen in the race for the 2008 drivers' title, with just one point now between them.

Chris Atkinson took the runners-up spot for Subaru, the highest finish he has ever managed in the WRC - and only the third time he has gotten onto the rostrum. The Aussie ran in the top three throughout and in the end was justly rewarded for his consistency. He had a problem with the intercom on day 1 and with the clutch towards the end of day 2, but other than that he enjoyed a relatively trouble-free event.

Latvala meanwhile had to settle for third, after having lost too much time on Saturday with that mechanical problem. It was a real shame for the Finn especially considering how he had managed to edge away from Seb on the first leg. He still took third though and that was quite a good consolation, especially as that was his pre-event target.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA). Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC. Corona Rally Mexico. February 29-March 2 2008. [PIC CREDIT: Citroen Sport / McKlein]
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC. Rally Mexico, 8-11th March 2007.
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena celebrate their Rally Mexico win with the rest of the Kronos Citroen team
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