Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has won the Rally of Turkey today to take his third win in succession and strengthen his position in the race for the 2010 WRC drivers' title.

Loeb took P1 on Saturday afternoon, when early leader Sebastien Ogier picked up a puncture and lost over 3 minutes. The Citroen Junior man had been in front by 8.1 seconds prior to his misfortune in SS15.

With Ogier dropping back, Loeb moved to the front, and with three fastest stages times from four on the repeat loop he pulled out a solid 16.2 second cushion for the final day.

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He then proceeded to increase his lead on Sunday and while two tests were cancelled due to safety concerns, another three stages wins - in SS20, SS21 and SS22 - saw him stretch his advantage to 51.6 seconds.

In the end he came home almost a minute up on his nearest rival and the result puts him 40 points ahead in the drivers' championship. Citroen also gains ground in the manufacturers' too and now has 15 points in hand over Ford.

"This victory gives me a lot of pleasure, as I won it in a rally where, from a sporting point of view, the outcome of the battle was very indecisive for a long time," Loeb said. "The route was a real challenge with some very quick sections and others in which you had to nurse the car. Once again, the reliability of the C4 WRC was a huge help. This third win on the trot has helped us to make the break in the world championship as we now have forty points in hand over our nearest rival."

Petter Solberg meanwhile was second and his third podium in succession moves him up to second in the drivers' championship. He did have some problems on the final day, including a puncture in SS20 and a tussle with a tree on the second loop, but in the end he still got to the finish.

"This is just unbelievable! I mean, second in Turkey is one thing, but we are also second in the championship now. It is so great to know that we actually can be up there fighting for wins," he stated. "I have not been flat out all weekend. I backed off in some places just to be on the safe side. I'm really looking forward to New Zealand now."

Mikko Hirvonen claimed the final spot on the podium. He had slipped down to fourth following a puncture in SS20, but found himself back up in third when Dani Sordo was forced out in the next test.

"We only made one mistake," Hirvonen reflected, "but we still ended the day on the podium where we started, so it's not so bad. After what happened, third was the best we could achieve. It's not what I hoped for this weekend but the puncture destroyed my hopes of a win."

Ogier took fourth, despite going off in the same place that claimed Sordo, and while his tyre woes on day two dropped him out of contention for the win, he was still pleased with his performance.

"We've been able to fight at the front for a large part of the event and we're definitely on the right road now," he said. "The car was perfect and the team has done a great job. Now I'm really looking forward to getting to New Zealand."

Further down the order, Kimi Raikkonen continues to adapt to the WRC and was an encouraging fifth: "I'm very happy with the pace that we are able to maintain without taking any risks," said the 2007 F1 world champion. "We are able to get closer now to the drivers who are in front of us, which is our key objective. The hard work we have done with the team is now paying off. We've got a few weeks now before our next rally but our goal remains unchanged: we will have to continue to improve."

Of the rest, Federico Villagra was sixth, 33.1 seconds up on Matthew Wilson, while Jari-Matti Latvala fought his way back to take eighth after losing around 9 minutes on Saturday in SS10 when he hit a bank and rolled his car.

Dennis Kuipers and Aaron Burkart took the final points in ninth and tenth respectively, the latter also taking the Junior WRC win for Suzuki - four minutes up on his closest class rival, Alessandro Broccoli.

In terms of retirements, Sordo was the only major name not to get to the finish, although Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg and Monster WRT's Ken Block both had to SupeRally after going out in the first test on Friday. Block was classified in 24th, one spot in front of Henning.

The WRC now heads to the other side of the world next for Rally New Zealand, which runs from May 6-9 and is again based in Auckland.