Loeb Takes Record-Breaking Win

Sebastien Loeb has broken the record for the number of WRC wins in a season after winning the Rally Argentina

Loeb Takes Record-Breaking Win

Loeb took it easy on the final Pro Rally Superspecial and coasted home 26.1 seconds ahead of Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm.

Despite there being seven rallies left on this year's calendar, Loeb has now taken the seven victories necessary to surpass his and Didier Auriol's joint record of six wins in a season.

Auriol took six wins in 1992, and Loeb matched it last year when he won six rallies on his way to his first WRC title. It is Loeb's sixth consecutive victory, and he also now stands alone in the record books for the number of on-the-trot WRC victories, having matched Auriol's 1992 record at last month's Rally of Turkey.

The Frenchman went into the final leg 26.6 seconds ahead of Gronholm and he had pulled out a further six seconds over the Peugeot driver by lunch time.

Loeb took only one stage victory on the final leg, SS18, despite the first running of the famous El Condor stage being delayed by 20 minutes due to crowd congestion.

Loeb now has a massive 27-point lead in the Championship standings from Norwegian Petter Solberg.

None of the points-paying positions changed during the final leg. Gronholm had a steady run to second place on the final leg, despite Solberg's best efforts.

Solberg showed he hadn't given up his pursuit of the position with the fastest stage time on SS20, however, the gap was insurmountable by the time they reached the superspecial. The Subaru driver did show he is the master of such spectator stages, by winning SS22 with the fastest time of any of the four runnings of the 3.02km stage during the event.

The battle for fourth place provided the most excitement of the day. Toni Gardemeister just edged out Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera, who had narrowed the gap from 11.0 seconds at the end of yesterday, to just 7.0 seconds before the superspecial.

The pair showed just how hard they were pushing on SS19, the 24.45km stage of Mina Clavero-Giulio Cesar. Gardemeister and Rovanpera were more than four seconds faster than any of the rally's leading trio through that stage, with Gardemeister edging Rovanpera by 2.4 seconds. Rovanpera however, narrowed the margin by beating the Ford driver through both runnings of El Condor.

Rovanpera also beat the Finn on both runnings of the superspecial, including being fastest overall on SS21, but it was not enough to take the position. He ended just 5.6 seconds off Gardemeister, who has scored points on every rally so far this season.

Peugeot driver Marko Martin, the only other driver to score on all nine rallies, had a quiet run to sixth. He beat Francois Duval by more than a minute, who secured two manufacturer points on his return to the Citroen team after his two-rally enforced rest.

The Belgian had a bad run through SS20, which allowed the privateer Citroen of Manfred Stohl to halve the gap between them. However Duval rose to the threat, and held off Stohl.

The Championship now moves to Finland in three weeks time, where Scandinavians Gronholm and Solberg must fight back if they are to have any hope of taking this year's WRC title.

However, it is now possible for Loeb to clinch his second title at the Wales Rally GB in September - in just three rallies' time.

Rally Argentina final results - Top 20:

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Loeb Citroen 3h 55:36.4 2. Gronholm Peugeot + 26.1 3. Solberg Subaru + 1:05.3 4. Gardemeister Ford + 2:38.0 5. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 2:43.6 6. Martin Peugeot + 4:22.2 7. Duval Citroen + 5:29.1 8. Stohl Citroen + 5:42.9 9. Atkinson Subaru + 5:59.2 10. Pons Citroen + 8:25.1 11. Kresta Ford + 8:38.2 12. Warmbold Ford + 8:58.2 13. Ligato Peugeot + 13:53.1 14. Perez Ford + 15:11.7 15. Carlsson Peugeot + 18:20.6 16. Schwarz Skoda + 21:49.0 17. Al-Attiyah Subaru + 26:05.2 18. Higgins Subaru + 28:41.4 19. Trivino Peugeot + 33:06.1 20. Villagra Mitsubishi + 38:07.9 
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