Loeb secures third win in succession in NZ

“It has been a long and hard rally and I'm a little bit disappointed with what happened on the first day of the rally,” Solberg conceded. “It is hard for the team. We have a really good car, really big possibilities and then a little wrong tyre choice, but a podium is podium.”

Evgeny Novikov was next up and fourth for the M-Sport Ford team after another mature display from the Russian, which saw him run in P4 pretty much throughout.

“The roads were very fast today and the conditions have been very difficult, but our tyre choice has worked very well again so I am pleased with that. Even the smallest mistake can cause the car to roll in these sorts of conditions so we decided not to push today. Fourth place is a very good result for us and I have really enjoyed the stages all weekend,” he reflected.

Novikov's team-mate Ott Tanak looked poised to take fifth after a very solid display. However disaster struck in the final loop today, when he rolled his Fiesta RS WRC car six kilometres into SS20.

“Everything went well this morning. Thierry [Neuville] was going really well, but we set some good times and were able to keep him behind us. Unfortunately, I was caught out on a really fast section this afternoon and we went off the road,” he explained. “I was trying to push as we lost a lot of time to Thierry on that stage over the morning loop. He was on softs for the afternoon, and we were on hards, so I knew I had to try hard. Unfortunately, the New Zealand camber caught us out. Obviously I am very disappointed. Now I just need to concentrate on Finland where hopefully we can finish with a strong result.”

Thierry Neuville thus completed the top five in his Citroen DS3 WRC and he finished with a flourish, winning three stages during the final leg: "I think it was a very good weekend for us and only on the Friday we had some troubles. We could have been fourth at the end of the rally, now we are fifth, but anyway it is a good result for us,” he said. “We could set three fastest stage times today and that is very important for my career. The feeling with the car is getting better and better. I had good speed in New Zealand, but now I have to try to be fast on other rallies.”

Further back, Prodrive MINI man Dani Sordo took a respectable sixth in his John Cooper Works WRC car. He set two quickest times on the final day, but admitted he was still somewhat disappointed not to finish higher up.

“Today has been good. I had hoped the soft tyres would have been better in the rain, but still it was nice to win the two stages, particularly in front of all the MINI fans. I think we had all hoped this rally would have been a little better for us, but the car has been very good and now I am looking forward to having a much better fight on tarmac in Germany,” he stated.

Jari-Matti Latvala had to settle for seventh, after losing over four minutes on Friday afternoon when he went off the road in SS7. He took the Power Stage win, but was still bitterly disappointed not to have been challenging for the win.

“I haven't had the confidence all weekend,” he conceded, “especially Friday and then on Saturday it started to pick up and on Sunday it has been alright. I would have been able to finish on the podium without the off, but at least we are here [at the finish] and got the points.”

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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