Loeb hangs on to win in Norway

Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb has emerged triumphant on Rally Norway following a ding-dong battle with Mikko Hirvonen.

Going into the final day, 15 seconds separated the two and while Mikko kept up the pressure, winning four tests to cut the gap to 7.7 seconds going into the final stage, Seb held on.

Indeed the Frenchman eventually came out top by 9.8 seconds, topping the times in the final test to take his ninth stage win in total and make sure he ended the event in P1.

Loeb took the lead briefly in SS3 on Friday, but then trailed Hirvonen and seemed to be on the back-foot. Mikko opted to slow though in the final test on day one in order to give himself a better road position for the second leg.

As such Seb started day two on top - 2.6 seconds in front, and despite running first on the road, it was a position he would never relinquish, winning five of Saturday's eight tests, and building up a solid 15-second advantage.

That was enough to see him through the final leg, which incidentally was the longest of the event, and he came through to win only his second event on snow - the last in Sweden in 2004 - and his first in Norway.

The result also allowed him to further his bid to claim a sixth world title and he now enjoys a 6-point lead in the drivers' standings, having taken the maximum 20 points from rounds one and two.

“This victory is very important to me,” said the Frenchman. “It was very difficult. I was first on the road throughout and pushing to the maximum. When you are pushing so much it is easy to make a mistake and lose the whole rally. It is good to beat the Finnish drivers and win on snow.”

Hirvonen meanwhile put in a great performance, but his tactical gamble at the end of the opening day didn't work out. Indeed he only managed to beat Seb in one test on Saturday.

The Finn though was always in contention, winning eight tests, and he ensured Loeb had to work for what was his 49th WRC career win in total.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team

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RXRacer - Unregistered

February 15, 2009 6:11 PM

Lack of competition?...In his 1st full year he lost the title by 1 point to Solberg and beat teammates Sainz and Mcrae, two of the greats. Then there's Gronholm, Makinen, Burns and a number of other very good drivers. Not to mention winning Monte Carlo on debut! (classified 2nd after a dumb penalty). He's seemed to have it a easier lately, but then he's no doubt gotten even better with experience. I agree it's hard to judge the best in most sports, but after he's retired I think more and more people will look back at Loeb as the best ever.

raiderC - Unregistered

February 16, 2009 1:42 AM

Like I've been saying, if Ford had to resort to silly tactics just to stay close to Loeb on a rally they've dominated in the past, then what chance does anyone have? And to those saying there's weak competition, how would you know who could've been great when Loeb's shadow extends so far. Remember people were expecting great things from Sordo, and how many (tarmac) wins would he have now if not for his teammate always being faster. I'm a Ford fan, but there's no denying Loeb's greatness, his successes at ROC should drive the point home.

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