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Loeb secures third win in succession in NZ

Sebastien Loeb wins in NZ and concludes the first half of the 2012 WRC championship with a comfortable lead in the drivers' championship

Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb took his third win in a row with victory on Rally New Zealand today, a result that puts him in a commanding position in the drivers' championship as the 2012 World Rally Championship passes the halfway marker.

Loeb trailed his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on the opening day and it wasn't until the very final test on Friday that he moved in front, finishing the leg with a slender 4 second cushion.

On Saturday the duel between the two Citroen factory drivers continued and following the morning loop, Hirvonen had closed to within 1.7 seconds of the lead. However in the afternoon, Loeb struck back and ended the day 6.4 seconds ahead. At this point, with Petter Solberg a distant third, Citroen boss Yves Matton instructed both of his drivers' to hold position, and on the final day, they duly brought their DS3 WRC cars home, giving the French team another one-two.

Loeb now heads into the WRC's summer break with a 38-point lead over Hirvonen in the race for the 2012 drivers' title, while Citroen is 93 points up on Ford in the manufacturers' standings.

“It's a great victory! It was a long weekend with some very difficult conditions. The big, big fight with Mikko was not easy, but we are here now at the end of the rally,” Loeb said.

“This season is going very well. Again we do first and second here and that shows that the car is really strong and that it is good for the championship. The team is doing a perfect job and that is one of the keys of our success. I have a good feeling for the rest of the season.”

Hirvonen meanwhile, who was looking very good to win on Friday, was pleased to be back on the pace after struggling last time out on the Acropolis.

“It was a fantastic weekend; we had such a great fight for the first two days. It was really important to get the speed back again because in Greece I wasn't happy with my driving so now it is good again and right before Finland which is brilliant,” he confirmed.

Behind, Petter Solberg took the final place on the podium for Ford, although he was a long way back – more than 90 seconds off Loeb – after selecting the wrong tyres on Friday morning. That cost the Norwegian dear leaving him down in seventh after SS4. Although he managed to haul himself back up the leaderboard, he was unable to do anything about the two Citroens ahead.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (FRA) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Citroen DS3 WRC
Sebastian Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Podium - 1st outright Sebastion Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Podium - 1st outright Sebastion Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC; 2nd Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Citroen DS3 WRC; 3rd Petter Solberg (NOR) Chris Patterson (GBR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Podium - 1st outright Sebastion Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC
Podium - 1st outright Sebastion Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MCO) Citroen DS3 WRC

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Nicolai - Unregistered

June 24, 2012 10:42 PM

I reckon Loeb is either going to try for 10 titles. Or 100 wins (or both), and then he will retire. And in my opinion, despite what all the old rally fans think (and despite all the disagrees this comment will probably get), its not that there is a lack of talent these days, its just that Loeb is the best there ever was. Put him up against all the old greats in what alot of people think was the golden era, and he still would have beaten them all.

Kiko - Unregistered

June 25, 2012 4:49 PM

I am fed up with the 'oh just retire Loeb and give us back Rallying' The only thing that would mean is that the quality of driver that becomes World Champion is made worse. I don't see how removing Loeb and therefore dropping the quality of driver makes a better series. How about we remove Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel from Formula 1 and we can be really impressed - a season where people like Maldonado and Karthikeyan fight for the title must be amazing as it is the F1 equivalent of what you're asking for in WRC. WRC wasn't ruined by Loeb, it was ruined by the Manufacturers leaving. Mitsubishi vs. Subaru Vs. Ford Vs. Citroen Vs. Peugeot Vs. Hyundai All we have now is Citroen Vs. Ford.



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