17 August 2008
Germany - day 3: Loeb in seventh heaven.
Sebastien Loeb was once again unbeatable on the Rallye Deutschland this weekend and he eventually came through to take the victory on the Trier-based by over 40 seconds.
Loeb dominated the tenth round in this year's World Rally Championship and led right from the off in his Citroen C4 WRC car. He set the pace in all three tests on the opening loop on Friday, completing SS1, the 21.22 km Ruwertal / Fell test in 11 minutes 31.6 seconds, 5.8 seconds up on his team-mate Dani Sordo, who was 'best of the rest'.
Seb then went quickest again in Grafschaft Veldenz to increase his early lead almost two-fold, before inching further in front in SS3, the 9.82 km run through Moselland.
In the afternoon Seb continued in the same vein, 2.2 seconds up on Francois Duval in SS4 and he headed into the final two stages with a 17.7 second advantage. While SS5 and SS6 were both disrupted - the former following Gigi Galli's big crash and the latter due to safety concerns, which meant only three drivers' actually completed it at speed - Loeb maintained his dominance and ended the first leg with a clean sweep of stage wins.
On day two he was again the class of the field and won all four tests in the morning to increase his overnight cushion from 19.9 seconds to 35.9, and while he did have a bit of a scare in SS9, when he almost went off the road near the finish, that was his only real drama.
On the repeat loop he continued to push and he posted an additional three fastest times in SS11, SS12 and SS13. It was only in the final test of the day, that Sordo spoilt his run and prevented him from taking a perfect 14 from 14, Seb losing out as he was 2.7 seconds slower.
Still though, he more than doubled his advantage - and he could then just pace himself through Sunday's final 85 competitive kilometres.
It is the seventh year in succession he has come out top in Germany - having won every year since the event joined the WRC back in 2002 - and the result moves him back into the lead in the battle for the 2008 drivers' championship, 4 points up on Mikko Hirvonen.
"After beating our main rival on his home event, we had no intention of letting anybody else take victory in Germany,” reflected the Citroen #1. “Our C4 WRC handled perfectly impeccably from start to finish and we got our tyre calls right every time. I had an excellent feeling with my car over all the different types of terrain we encountered here and that meant we were able to push hard from the word go and then consolidate our position.
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