World champion Sebastien Loeb powered his Citroen C4 to a third straight Wales Rally victory on Sunday, the 13th and final leg of the World Rally Championship series. Loeb, who secured his seventh consecutive world championship last month, finished the event ahead of Norway’s Petter Solberg, who was second at 19secs, to claim his eighth win of the season.
The Frenchman always looked in control after regaining the lead from Solberg on Saturday, and the Citroen factory driver was quicker than the Norwegian on all four of Sunday’s stages. ”I’m relieved and very happy because it was really a very tough battle and Petter was really fast from the start with very few mistakes,” said Loeb. ”It was a difficult battle but I took a lot of pleasure from the stages and really enjoyed this rally, which was definitely the longest battle I’ve had this season.” He added: “I really wanted to win this last race with the C4 because I have a lot of good memories of this car. I can’t wait to start 2011 with the DS3, it’s a new challenge, a new style of driving, a new motivation. ”I hope that Petter will still be in the WRC next season.”
The win was the 36th Loeb has achieved in the C4 WRC, which goes into retirement from the start of next season. It was his 62nd career win. Loeb also congratulated Germany’s newly-crowned Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel. ”I’m happy for Vettel because I know him a little and for Red Bull who have won the two titles, in Formula One and WRC (Citroen’s principle sponsor). ”He (Vettel) wasn’t the best placed at the beginning of the day but he made no mistake and is the champion. I hope to beat him in the Race of Champions (in Dusseldorf end of November).”
Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala finished third to secure second place in the drivers’ championship with his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen finishing fourth after being overhauled on the penultimate stage by his fellow Finnish to allow him take the runners-up spot. Dani Sordo was fifth for the Citroen Junior Team with Henning Solberg sixth, and Kimi Raikkonen eighth in the second of the Junior Citroens.
Source : Sapa-AFP /wb