WRC

Loeb trots to win in Turkey

Loeb trots to win in Turkey

Sebastien Loeb swept all three days of the Rally of Turkey as the Citroen driver was determined to take the victory and maintain his World Rally Championship points lead. Citroen also increased their manufacturer lead over ...

Sebastien Loeb swept all three days of the Rally of Turkey as the Citroen driver was determined to take the victory and maintain his World Rally Championship points lead. Citroen also increased their manufacturer lead over Ford.

S?bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.
Photo by Citro?n Sport.
Loeb was one of the few top contenders that did not run into problems over the three days of heat and demanding route that left little time for the rallyists to relax.

"The car was perfect," said Loeb with a large grin. "The preparation of the team was outstanding. I enjoyed the battle with Marcus (Gronholm), but will admit I was glad to relax a bit today."

Gronholm kept up the pressure on the Frenchman, taking the opening stage today. On the penultimate stage, the Peugeot 307's gearbox seized. The Finn did a quick fix to stay in the rally, eventually finishing second.

"It's been a tough event," the Finn commented. "Generally it has not been too bad a rally for us, but the gearbox problem on the penultimate stage was a bit of a drama for us. Thanks to the advice of the engineers we were able to fix it rapidly, but we have been certainly made to work hard for our second place here!"

Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen.
Photo by Team Peugeot.
Gronholm's initial challenge faltered on the second leg of the rally, as a steel rod punctured the floor of the Peugeot, protruding through the seat of co-driver Timo Rautianen. Gronholm slowed to check on his teammate, losing valuable time.

Petter Solberg retained the third position from the previous day, one that he had to work to earn after a problem on the first day. The Subaru driver needed the points to stay in the early chase for the championship.

"I'm quite happy to be on the podium again," Solberg said. "Overall I think the performance has been good. We could have done so much better if it wasn't for the first day."

Loeb's teammate, Carlos Sainz, finished fourth followed by Ford's Francois Duval and Subaru's rising star, Mikko Hirvonen.

Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen.
Photo by Subaru World Rally Team.
The young Finn was tired but happy after the event: "The event was rougher than I thought it would be and extremely hard on the tyres. The next two events should prove good for me as there is much more fast stuff, which is what I prefer, and I'm looking forward to the cooler conditions of Argentina."

Ford's ace driver, Markko Martin, finished 56 minutes off the pace as his Focus suffered through a series of watersplashes on the first leg. He first lost the hood of the car, causing cooling problems, and later the engine crankshaft sensor wire failed, stopping the Ford in its tracks.

Martin repaired the wire with one from the headlights, getting under way, but well out of contention. "Now I feel like a proper mechanic!" the Estonian ace quipped afterwards.

Solberg remains second in the points to Loeb; Martin is third followed by Gronholm, who finally made some progress in the standings. The battle will continue in Argentina.

"I'm feeling very optimistic about Argentina," added Solberg. "I've done well on every rally so far and I hope it's going to be a good fight all the way this year."

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Timo Rautiainen , Daniel Elena , Mikko Hirvonen , Jarmo Lehtinen , Markko Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team