France - day 3: Home win puts Loeb on verge.

Sebastien Loeb put in a fantastic performance on the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse this weekend to move within touching distance of a record fifth drivers' title - despite Ford's antics in the final loop.

Just like in Spain a week ago, Loeb utterly dominated the first leg on Friday and he romped into the lead immediately on the thirteenth round in the World Rally Championship.

Indeed he completed the opening test in 9 minutes 27.4 seconds, 4 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen, who was 'best of the rest'. The four-time world champion then increased his advantage further in SS2 before doubling it in SS3, to return to the mid-day halt with a 14.4 second cushion.

In the afternoon, on the repeat loop, the Citroen star pushed on - 6.1 seconds up on Hirvonen in SS4 and 5.2 seconds ahead of his championship rival in SS5. With his sixth stage win in succession in Arbellara he ended leg 1 with a 32.3 second advantage.

Saturday was a case of more of the same and he was again unstoppable in his C4 WRC car, winning all but the final test of the day - when Francois Duval ended his run.

With eleven stage wins from twelve though he had already almost doubled his overnight cushion and going into the final day enjoyed a 52.4 second lead.

The final day may not have been easy, with two long tests to contend with, both run twice - including the longest of the event, but it didn't seem to have much effect on Loeb.

Indeed he won another two stages in the morning and one in the afternoon, to take his tally to 14 from 16.

It was his fourth win in as many years in Corsica and his tenth victory of the season. Seb now extends his championship lead to 14 points and with just Japan and Wales to go, Mikko Hirvonen will need a miracle to stop the Frenchman winning this year's drivers' championship.

"It's always a big honour to win here," he said. "We've had three perfect days. The car worked like a dream and we made no mistakes. Over the course of the whole rally we were quicker than our rivals and we did not take unnecessary risks. We have increased our lead in the championship a bit and everything is heading in the right direction."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Podium, Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Podium, Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
3th place Andreas Mikkelsen ,Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC, #9 Volkswagen Motorsport II)
1st place Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
2n place Jari-Matti Latvala,  Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo WRC #2, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Michelin tyres
Robert Kubica

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