Sebastien Loeb clinches Rally Finland victory
|Saturday, August 4th 2012, 16:19 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb resisted a late challenge from Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to claim his third Rally Finland victory and his sixth triumph of the 2012 World Rally Championship season.
Hirvonen was quickest on the two runs through the epic Ouninpohja stage that concluded the rally, reducing Loeb's lead to 6.1 seconds and securing maximum power stage bonus points in the process. But the Finn could not grab a home win and had to watch his team-mate move another step closer to a ninth straight WRC title.
Loeb and Hirvonen led the way for the vast majority of the rally, as Ford struggled to match the Citroens' pace. Jari-Matti Latvala claimed third at home, 21s clear of team-mate Petter Solberg but 35s away from the lead.
Mads Ostberg fought back from a final day propshaft drama to reclaim fifth from Ott Tanak. Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov had also been in top six contention early on, before crashing and having to resort to superally.
The final points went to regular Finland guest star Matti Rantanen, Jari Ketomaa's DMACK-shod Ford, Martin Prokop and Sebastien Ogier's S2000 Skoda.
Leading finishers after SS18: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h28m11.4s 2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 6.1s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 35.0s 4. Petter Solberg Ford + 56.1s 5. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 2m32.1s 6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 2m47.6s 7. Matti Rantanen M-Sport Ford + 4m51.7s 8. Jari Ketomaa Autotek Ford + 6m01.9s 9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6m04.3s 10. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 8m46.0s