“This is a historic day for motorsport in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “My plan was to be as close to the top five as possible and I more than met my expectations. I enjoyed a clear run in difficult conditions and mixed terrain. I was extremely nervous through the final few stages because I didn't want to push and risk losing my position, but it was a sensible and mature performance.”
Of the other WRC drivers, in addition to Loeb and Ogier, who went out on day one, Peter van Merksteijn Jr, Henning Solberg and Ken Block also got to the end and were classified thanks to the SupeRally, finishing 13th, 14th and 19th respectively.
Block went out in the first stage on Friday, while van Merksteijn Jr also had retire on day one after SS6 when he picked up two punctures and only had one replacement.
Henning had his problems on Saturday, with electrical issues stopping him in SS15. He had been running fourth. The Norwegian had a dramatic final day too, rolling in SS23 and suffering two punctures in the Power Stage. He lipped to the end however.
Evgeny Novikov and Brazil WRT MINI John Cooper Works man Daniel Oliviera were the two retirees today, both going off the road in SS22. Novikov and Oliviera had also had to retire on day 1, the latter with radiator issues in SS6, while the former hit a rock in SS7.
In the Production WRC, Haydon Paddon took his fourth win in succession and secured the 2011 PWRC title – despite a blown turbo charger on day two, which cost him significant time. Paddon also finished sixth overall.
Fellow PWRC runners Michal Kosciuszko, Oleksandr Saliuk and Benito Guerra took 'senior' WRC points too, and held positions 7 through to 9 on the overall leaderboard – and 2 through to 4 in the PWRC. Kosciuszko finished the event 1 minute 32 seconds off Paddon.
The 2011 WRC now continues at the end of the month, with Rallye de France running from September 29-October 2.