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Loeb wins Monte Carlo Rally

2012-01-22 13:05

Monaco - Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb of France in a Citroen won the Monte Carlo rally for the sixth time on Sunday to take up where he left off last season atop the World Rally Championship standings (WRC).

In what was the opening leg of the 2012 WRC season, Loeb triumphed ahead of Dani Sordi of Spain (Mini) and Petter Solberg of Norway (Ford Fiesta). It was the 68th rally win of his exceptional career.

The race, the 80th running of the Monte Carlo Rally, marked its return to the WRC stage after three seasons in the rival IRC camp.

Loeb has won the last eight rally world titles and is a hot favourite to make it nine in a row this year.

Recently voted as the most popular sportsman in France, Loeb, who hails from Alsace in eastern France, opened the final day poised to grab overall victory having led the classic rally race from the start.

And he made no mistake by winning the closing five km-long power stage on the Col de la Madone, high above Monte Carlo, which accorded him three extra points points to take him to 28 points for the race.

"For sure it’s always a great moment to start the season like this especially in front of so many fans," Loeb told World Rally Radio.

"Full points in the first race is incredible and for sure it’s the perfect start [to my title defence]. But Monte-Carlo is my rally and for the others we will have to see."

Mikko Hirvonen marked his debut for the works Citroen squad in fourth with Evgeny Novikov impressing throughout to take fifth in his M-Sport Fiesta, which equals his best finish in the WRC to date.

The Russian completed his Monte-Carlo debut by claiming the final Power Stage point.

Results after Sunday's final special stages in the World Rally Championship (WRC) season-opening Monte Carlo Rally:

Overall final results:

1. Sbastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-MON/Citron DS3) 4:32:39.9
2. Dani Sordo-Carlos Del Barrio (ESP/Mini John Cooper Works) at 2:45.5
3. Petter Solberg-Chris Patterson (NOR-GBR/Ford Fiesta RS) 3:14.2
4. Mikko Hirvonen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/Citron DS3) 4:06.8
5. Evgueni Novikov-Denis Giraudet (RUS-FRA/Ford Fiesta RS) 6:03.4
6. Franois Delecour-Dominique Savignoni (FRA/Ford Fiesta RS) 7:47.9
7. Pierre Campana-Sabrina de Castelli (FRA/Mini John Cooper Works) 8:31.4
8. Ott Tnak-Kuldar Sikk (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) 10:34.6
9. Martin Prokop-Zdenek Hruza (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) 16:10.7
10. Armindo Araujo-Miguel Ramalho (POR/Mini John Cooper Works) 16:16.6

Stage winners:

Loeb 9 (SS1, SS3-SS7, SS9, SS10, SS18), P. Solberg 4 (SS11, SS15, SS16, SS17), Hirvonen 3 (SS12 ES14), Latvala 1 (SS2), Sordo 1 (SS8)

Abandons:

Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS)
Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Citron DS3)

AFP