Rally Champions Return To The Gala

Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena collected their sixth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship trophy at the FIA Gala in Monaco this evening. The French/Monegasque pairing claimed the title on the final round to maintain their place in the record books as the most successful crew in the history of the series.

The 2009 FIA World Rally Championship was contested over 12 events. Rally Poland, one of the oldest rallies in the world, and Rally Australia, which last ran in 2006, both returned to the calendar providing fresh challenges in new locations.

Loeb and Elena were unstoppable at the start of the year, winning the first five events before Ford's Mikko Hirvonen fought back with four consecutive victories. Split by one point, the rivals went head to head on the final round in Wales. Loeb and Elena won the event - their 54th world rally victory - to claim the title by a single point.

Sebastien Loeb said:

"I have to admit that this season will remain as one of the most exciting. At the start of the year, everyone - except the team - thought we could win all rallies, but it turned out to be very different. This shows how challenging our discipline is, and how strong is the competition. I am delighted that we have clinched a sixth title in a row and I really want to thank all the team who have worked very hard to make this happen, especially Dani Sordo and Marc Marti who have been fantastic team-mates."

The FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers was won by the Citroen Total World Rally Team for the second consecutive year, despite strong opposition from the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.

Citroen Racing Director Olivier Quesnel said:

"We have lived a thrilling season with a happy ending for us. I am very proud of the entire Citroen Racing team as they never gave up even when we experienced harder events in the middle of the year. The World Rally Championship matches perfectly Citroen's philosophy: the will to win and the creative technology motto. We could not dream of better ambassadors than Sebastien and Daniel who have set another outstanding performance this year, combined with the consistency and team-spirit of Dani and Marc."

Armindo Araujo and co-driver Miguel Ramalho won the 2009 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship title. The 23rd season of the WRC's production car category took in eight of the 12 events and the Portuguese pairing won by three points.

Czech Republic driver Martin Prokop became the country's first-ever world rally champion when he won the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. He and co-driver Jan Tomanek won three of the qualifying events, wrapping up the title with one round remaining. The pair also finished runner-up in the 2009 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.

-credit: fia