Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb secured the victory on Rally Mexico today, the second round in the 2010 World Rally Championship.
Loeb seized the lead from fellow Citroen runner, Petter Solberg in the first test on Saturday morning and then proceeded to build a commanding lead, winning eight stages in succession to end the second leg 55.5 seconds in front.
The Frenchman then paced himself through the final day - which comprised just three stages, after SS20 was cancelled - and took the laurels by 24.2 seconds. It was his first win of the year and moves him to the top of the drivers' championship with 43 points - 6 points in front of main rival, Mikko Hirvonen.
"I'm back in the lead in the championship," said Loeb. "I'm really happy. We had a good drive yesterday."
Petter Solberg meanwhile snatched the runners-up spot after an exciting scrap with Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier. Going into the final day just 2.7 seconds separated the duo and while Ogier went in front this morning in SS19, 'Hollywood' fought back.
Indeed in the next test Petter cut the gap to 0.6 seconds and he then edged in front in the event ending 4.42 km Super Special. At the finish the difference was just 1.1 seconds.
“It was a very good weekend for me,” said Ogier. “Maybe I lost second place this morning. We didn't drive to the maximum.”
Away from the top-three, Mikko Hirvonen was a distant fourth for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team – over 1.5 minutes off the fight for second.
Hirvonen moved up to P4 in the penultimate stage today when his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala slowed to aid his compatriots title bid. Latvala eventually finished 27.6 seconds further back in fifth. He had been ahead of Hirvonen throughout and was a similar amount in front before obeying team orders.
“It has been a difficult weekend for the whole team,” admitted Rally Sweden winner, Hirvonen. “We didn't have the speed.”
Stobart's Henning Solberg was next up and rounded out the top six, 30 seconds or so further back. Henning had a solid weekend and managed 17 top-six times from a possible 21. His best effort was on Saturday morning when he was second in Duarte 1 and third in Derramadero 1.
Further down the order, Federico Villagra starts his 2010 WRC campaign with a seventh place finish for the Munchi's Ford WRT. He had a lonely run to P7 and while no doubt he will be happy with the points, he won't be so pleased to have finished up over 7 minutes off the top six.