Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb survived the atrocious conditions on day three of the Pioneer Rally Japan to take the final spot on the podium and clinch his fifth drivers' crown.

Loeb, who went into the 14th and penultimate round in the World Rally Championship having won the last five events in succession, elected not to try and push for the win in Sapporo, but rather do enough to ensure the battle with title rival Mikko Hirvonen didn't go to the finale in Wales.

His tactics paid off too and while he did have a scare in the penultimate stage, when he spun 200 metres from the end of the 27.76 kilometre-run through Sikot 2, he was still sixth quickest and eventually took third - and those vital six points - with ease, more than a minute up on Chris Atkinson in fourth.

Loeb now becomes the only driver in the 30-odd year history of the sport to have won the WRC crown five times - one more than Tommi Makinen and Juha Kankkunen, who both took it on four occasions.

"It's incredible [to win the title again]," said Seb. "It could'nt have been trickier today, but now is a great moment. There is no pressure. It's a big relief for me and also a big satisfaction to be a five-time world champion with Daniel [Elena - my co-driver]. We are very happy."

More to follow later...



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