WRC wrap: It's all about Loeb Unusually, Sebastien Loeb capped the perfect day with... eighth fastest time on the final stage of the Rallye de France - but the recently crowned seven-time champion wasn't remotely worried about how long it had ...
WRC wrap: It's all about Loeb
Unusually, Sebastien Loeb capped the perfect day with... eighth fastest time on the final stage of the Rallye de France - but the recently crowned seven-time champion wasn't remotely worried about how long it had taken him to race around his town for the second time.
The Frenchman and his Citroen C4 WRC enjoyed another inch-perfect and trouble-free day. Fourth fastest in Haguenau this morning, the champion elect was second in what would become the day's only visit to the 24-kilometre Bitche Camp stage.
When the re-run of that test was cancelled due to high number of spectators, just over four kilometres stood between Loeb and his 60th win. And those kilometres were dispatched with a smile on his face.
"This is fantastic," said Loeb. "This has been a very impressive rally. It has been very difficult and I didn't expect so many people to be here. This is the best result for me to win the championship here in France."
The crews following were full of congratulations for Loeb, but there had been battles between the other drivers to focus on.
Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo took second place, helping to confirm Citroen as winners of the manufacturers' championship again. With Petter Solberg not too far behind - and fastest on Sunday's opening stage, Sordo had to be on his mettle in Bitche Camp.
He was. He was fastest. Second to Loeb again, Sordo didn't mind this time. "I'm really happy for Sebastien," he said. "And I'm really happy for Citroen. There have been so many people watching from the roadside, this is a good result for them."
Solberg rued the stiff set-up of his C4 on the opening day, saying: "It's a shame we lost that time in the mud - I hadn't done any testing in those conditions. But it's a great feeling, we're here with another podium and it's great for my championship chances [of third place] to finish ahead of Jari-Matti [Latvala]."
Even though he ended the event just 12.8 seconds behind Loeb, Latvala was delighted with his event - and the four fastest times he set. In fairness to the Finn, his scratch time on the second run through Haguenau will probably be shaded by a Frenchman winning a bit more. But no matter, Latvala had driven exceptionally, but he was still a little disappointed.
"The podium was close," he said, "but when they cancelled the second run at the long stage today, Petter was too far away. I said before the start that I wanted to be under fifth, so I have to be happy that I fulfilled my prediction, but without that mistake last night I could have been a lot closer."
Latvala was quick to pay tribute to his rival, adding: "I have an appreciation of what Petter has done here, he has driven very well again."
Latvala's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was fifth with a returning (following his suspension damage yesterday) Sebastien Ogier sixth.
Patrik Sandell won the Super 2000 category, while Armindo Araujo mastered the Production class and Jeremi Ancian collected his first Junior win in a Suzuki Swift S1600.