Loeb wins Acropolis Rally

2012-05-27 14:58

Loutraki - Sebastien Loeb increased his lead in the World Rally Championship by winning the Acropolis Rally here on Sunday.

The French multiple world champion was leading by 10 seconds in his Citroen DS3 car going into the final day and he had no difficulty securing the 71st win of his stellar career.

It was also the third time he had won the rally in Greece after 2005 and 2008.

Team-mate Mikko Hirvonen of Finland took second place in what was the sixth race of the season, to give the French stable their third double of the season after the rallies of Mexico and Argentina.

Third place went to Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland in the fastest of the Fords.

It was the fourth win of the season for Loeb, who has won the world title a record eight times, and takes his lead in the overall standings this year to 30 points over Hirvonen with seven races remaining.

Mats Ostberg of Norway is in third a further nine points adrift after placing fourth in Greece.

"This rally was so long and difficult," said Loeb, who survived a scare on stage 20 when he stopped to change a left-rear puncture after three kilometres.

"We had some fortune in the morning, but in general we had to fight really hard. It was really good.

"I tried to always keep my rhythm and do what I felt. I tried to manage the car and the tyres. I believe that everybody has done a great rally."

Petter Solberg started Sunday's five stages trailing Loeb by 10.2s only to crash out on the opening test in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

The Norwegian's misfortune - he tore a rear wheel off his car after striking a tree - promoted Hirvonen up to second with Latvala securing the final podium place in third.

The Finn marked his return from injury by claiming 10 fastest stage times. "At least after a long time I'm back on the podium," he said.

Results on Sunday on the final day of the Acropolis Rally, the sixth race in the 2012 World Rally Championship season:

1. Sebastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-MON/Citren DS3) 4:42:03.3. 2. Mikko Hirvonen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/Citren DS3) 40.0, 3. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) 3:04.8, 4. Mads Ostberg-Jonas Andersson (NOR-SUE/Ford Fiesta RS) 6:16.4, 5. Martin Prokop-Zdenek Hruza (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) 7:46.5, 6. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gisoul (BEL/Citren DS3) 9:41.4, 7. Sbastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Skoda Fabia S2000) 12:59.9 8. Yazeed Al Rajhi-Michael Orr (KSA-GBR/Ford Fiesta S2000) 20:12.2, 9. Ott Tnak-Kuldar Sikk (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 23:18.9, 10. Abdulaziz Al-Kawari-Nicolas Arena (QAT-ITA/MINI) 28:40.5

Drivers standings after six races:

1. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) 119 pts, 2. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) 89, 3. Mads Ostberg (NOR) 80, 4. Petter Solberg (NOR) 73, 5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 45, 6. Evgeny Novikov (RUS) 43, 7. Martin Prokop (CZE) 36, 8. Sbastien Ogier (FRA) 22 and Thierry Neuville (BEL) 22, 10. Dani Sordo (ESP) 21

Constructors standings:

1. Citron Racing 194 pts. 2. Ford 121. 3. M-Sport (Ford) 91. 4. Citren Junior Team 45. 5. Qatar WRT (Citron) 37