Loeb secures seventh title with win

Sebastien Loeb clinched a record-extending seventh consecutive World Rally Championship title with another consummate victory - the 60th of his career and his sixth of the season - in his home rally in France

Loeb secures seventh title with win

Any result other than a Loeb win this weekend would have been the shock of the decade given his and Citroen's unstoppable form on asphalt in recent years.

Sure enough, he established a 40-second lead in the first half of the rally and then eased his pace and drove carefully to protect his advantage and ensure a straightforward victory. The event's new location meant he secured the title in his home town of Haguenau in front of a vast and ecstatic local crowd.

"For sure it makes it really special - it's incredible for me to win the seventh title here in Haguenau," said Loeb, whose win also clinched the manufacturers' title for Citroen. "I couldn't expect so many people here. To win the title here is the best thing that could happen this year."

Dani Sordo made it a one-two for the factory Citroen team, ultimately by a comfortable margin - though he had been part of a close four-way battle for second earlier in the weekend.

Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior), the only man who could still mathematically deprive Loeb of the crown, broke his suspension and had to stop when third on Saturday afternoon, while small errors and delays dropped Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) back in third and fourth. Nevertheless, a sixth podium of 2010 delighted Solberg, and Latvala made a real breakthrough with his asphalt speed this weekend, taking several stage wins.

Latvala's Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen struggled throughout, though. Severely lacking in confidence in his car, he finished a distant fifth.

The top cars pulled so far away from the rest of the field that Ogier was able to take sixth via superally when he returned for leg three.

Munchi's Ford's Federico Villagra beat Matthew Wilson - the only Stobart WRC class entry this weekend - to seventh by 11s after a rally-long battle. Kimi Raikkonen (Citroen Junior) had held that position on day one, before two accidents on Saturday brought his rally to an end.

Hydraulic problems and some errors confined Ken Block to 12th place, but the Monster Ford driver did complete a full rally distance for the first time in his fledgling WRC career.

World Touring Car Championship leader Yvan Muller enjoyed his WRC outing in a Solberg-run Citroen Xsara, despite a fuel system issue forcing him to retire mid-way through leg one. He rejoined via superally and finished 43rd.

Although the unregistered Henning Solberg was the top S2000 car in ninth overall, the official SWRC class win went to Patrik Sandell after a thrilling contest with Eyvind Brynildsen, which finally ended when Brynildsen - who had thrown caution to the wind after a puncture dropped him to second - rolled this morning.

Thierry Neuville was dominating the Junior category until he hit a rock and picked up the first of two punctures. With the same happening to subsequent leader Hans Weijs Jr, it was wildcard entrant Jeremi Ancian who took a shock win.

There were no such surprises in the Production class, which Armindo Araujo controlled throughout.

This weekend marked the first time that the Rally of France had been held in the Alsace area rather than its traditional Corsican base. An enormous number of spectators turned out to see Loeb's coronation, but various crowd issues meant much of the itinerary was delayed by between 30 minutes and an hour - although the only stage to be cancelled was the penultimate test today, which was sacrificed to ensure the final stage, televised live in France, went ahead on schedule.

Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h05m49.3s 2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 35.7s 3. Petter Solberg Citroen + 1m16.8s 4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m29.3s 5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 3m43.8s 6. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 11m55.9s 7. Federico Villagra Ford + 14m15.4s 8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 14m26.9s 9. Henning Solberg Ford + 16m48.9s 10. Patrik Sandell Skoda + 17m12.3s 
shares
comments
Loeb on brink of seventh title
Previous article

Loeb on brink of seventh title

Next article

Loeb emotional after home title win

Loeb emotional after home title win
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021