No Surprise: Loeb Wins in Turkey

World Champion Sebastien Loeb won the Rally of Turkey on Sunday, securing his fourth consecutive win in the 2005 Championship

No Surprise: Loeb Wins in Turkey

The French Citroen driver extended his lead in this year's Championship by finishing just under a minute ahead of his nearest rival, Subaru's Petter Solberg, after the final leg of the rally in the Taurus mountains near the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

After seven rallies this season, Loeb leads the Championship with 55 points, ahead of Solberg on 42 points and Estonian Markko Martin on 38 points. Peugeot are top of the manufacturers' standings with 72 points, ahead of Citroen on 68.

"I'm very proud of the team," Loeb said after his victory. "This was a fantastic job. It just goes to prove the solidity of the work that we've all been doing. I didn't feel especially threatened and this is what you achieve when you have the whole team working together."

The focus of attention on the final day was the battle for second place between Solberg and Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm, who won the final stage, two seconds ahead of Solberg.

Norway's Solberg held on to second place by 15.7 seconds ahead of the Finn, who had pulled out of the previous rally in Cyprus.

Loeb's lead over Solberg was trimmed in the final stage to 59.6 seconds but he repeated his 2004 victory in Turkey and has now won five of the season's seven rounds. Solberg has won the other two.

It was the first time that a driver has won four consecutive World Championship rallies since Timo Salonen won the title in 1985.

The next race will be the Acropolis Rally in Greece on June 24-26.

The top three competitors were well ahead of the rest of the pack, with Spain's former Champion Carlos Sainz back in fourth and 3:02.6 adrift of Gronholm.

Sainz, winner in Turkey two years ago, came out of retirement for what he said would be a one-off appearance in the Rally of Turkey with Citroen as a replacement for crash-prone Belgian Francois Duval.

Sainz hinted on Sunday that he might appear again, however.

"My idea was to come back for one rally only and this is still my idea, but in the future you cannot say that it is impossible," he said.

The 43-year-old Sainz ended the rally 1:39.3 ahead of Peugeot's fifth-placed Martin.

Rally of Turkey - Top 10 Results:

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Xsara WRC 4h21:48.0 2. Petter Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 05 + 59.6 3. Marcus Gronholm Peugeot 307 WRC + 1:15.3 4. Carlos Sainz Citroen Xsara WRC + 4:17.9 5. Markko Martin  Peugeot 307 WRC + 5:57.2 6. Toni Gardemeister Ford Focus RS WRC 04 + 8:07.3 7. Roman Kresta Ford Focus RS WRC 04 + 8:48.3 8. Gigi Galli Mitsubishi Lancer WR05 + 9:38.9 9. Antony Warmbold Ford Focus RS WRC 04 + 11:26.7 10. Harri Rovanpera Mitsubishi Lancer WR05 + 13:51.4 
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