FIA World Rally Champions Honoured in Monaco
The 2008 FIA World Rally Champions were crowned at the FIA Gala in Monaco this evening. Frenchman Sebastien Loeb and his Monegasque co-driver Daniel Elena took honours for a fifth consecutive World title, a unique achievement in the history of the sport.
This year the series was contested over 15 events, including a new World Championship round in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Loeb won a record-breaking 11 events during the season and in a rally career spanning 11 years the Frenchman has shattered records by winning more World Rally Championship events (47) and titles (5) than any other driver.
Sebastien Loeb said:
"I am very pleased with this fifth title as it means breaking another record. I would like to thank Daniel (Elena) first of all. He has partnered me for more than 10 years and we share all our victories together. My thanks also go to everyone at the Citroen team who have made all of this possible. Winning isn't easy, but it is even harder to maintain the same level. Our mechanics and engineers have supplied us with a competitive and reliable car every year, as well as the same motivation and dedication.
"I cannot compare the five WRC titles as they all have a special flavour, and for different reasons. At the start of this season everyone thought it would be very easy for us, but we had to fight all the way and we have had great and exciting battles. The result is very satisfying, and I hope we can continue the same way next year!"
The FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers was closely fought between Citroen and reigning champions, Ford. At the season finale event in Wales, Citroen claimed the title for the first time since 2005.
Citroen Sport Director Olivier Quesnel said:
"After the happy experience of seeing Seb and Daniel win the Drivers' title in Japan, it was fantastic to share the same thrill on Rally GB, when Citroen made sure of the Manufacturers' crown. Securing a second title in such difficult conditions was also very satisfying.
"The final event really summed up the season; it was fiercely fought and very close. Our crews have been both quick and reliable, and they made it possible to fly the brand's flag proudly.
"At the beginning of the year our objective was the Championship double; we have now succeeded and that is so satisfying. We have no intention of resting on our laurels though. The 2009 season is fast approaching and, after savouring these moments, everyone at Citroen Sport will soon be back at work preparing the defence of these two titles."
The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship was contested over eight events and the fight for the title also went to the final round in Wales. Austria's Andreas Aigner, with his co-driver Klaus Wicha, won the series by just two points in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
Sebastien Ogier made an impressive debut in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. The Frenchman, and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, won three of their nominated six events to win the title in a Citroen C2.