Citroen's Sebastien Loeb drove his Xsara WRC to victory in yesterday [Sunday]'s closing stages of the Monte Carlo Rally, the second successive win for the driver and his Monaco-born co-driver Daniel Elena.

Having taken the top spot of the leader board at the end of day one and having increased his lead on day two by setting the fastest time in every completed stage, Loeb put in a slightly more cautious performance yesterday, to protect his comfortable lead. However, he still set the third fastest time on two of the closing special stages.

"The conditions were harder than last year, but the fight was easier. Everything went well and the Xsara once again showed its true class," he said at the finish.

His victory has given him an early lead in the drivers' championship and earned the Citroen team ten important points in the manufacturers' championship.

Team boss Guy Frequelin was particularly pleased with the way this success was 'built up'.

"Sebastien started off on Friday morning, watching the pace set by his rivals, taking care not to make any mistakes," said Frequelin, "He increased the pace in the evening, to take the lead. Saturday he pushed hard, set the fastest time in every stage, most notably in the fog, and built up a good margin.

"Today [Sunday], he managed his lead safely, with almost clockwork consistency. He has the perfect feel for such a difficult event. It is no surprise that he has done so well here over the last three years. The way it goes I'm convinced he's able to beat Tommi Makinen's wins record here of four consecutive victories."

Claude Satinet, director general of Automobiles Citroen added: "I am happy and proud by what Sebastien and our team have achieved here. To win in Monte Carlo is the very best way to start off the season. This rally has an added, symbolic, value and is excellent for Citroen to win, both for the image of our brand, and for the motivation of all those who work for it."

Loeb and the team are now looking ahead to the next round of the World Rally Championship in Sweden, 6-8 February 2004.



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