Loeb claims citroen 50th WRC win

Sébastien Loeb pulled another four points away from his closest rival in the World Rally Championship at the weekend, as the reigning World Champion headed a thrilling Citroën 1-2 finish in New Zealand, where the French Manufacturer claimed its 50th WRC victory and extended its lead in the WRC Manufacturers’ Standings.

Loeb and Dani Sordo had been running third and fourth on the last day, but Loeb was closing in on the leaders until he was 15.3 seconds behind with just two stages to go. Keeping the pressure on the Ford runners paid off, and eventually both Citroën drivers were able to capitalise when Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala hit problems.

“We were aware that this was probably too big a gap to bridge in normal circumstances but we never gave up, and our efforts ended up paying,” said Loeb. “It's becoming something of a tradition for the last day of this rally to produce nail-biting finishes!”

Citroën Sport Team Manager Olivier Quesnel was naturally delighted with the result. “We never tire of saying that victory is never in the bag until the finish line has been crossed, and we saw that once again today! Everyone in the team responded perfectly to the way the weekend unfolded and that put our two crews in a strong position going into the last day. That in turn enabled them to push their rivals into making mistakes.”

Citroën’s first win came on Rally Catalunya in 1999 where Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni won in the Citroen Xsara Kit-Car. Loeb and Elena have claimed 44 of the manufacturer’s 50 wins, making themselves World Rallying’s greatest ever driver/co-driver pairing.

FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturer Standings after round 11 of 15*1st Citroën-Total, 141 pts; 2nd Ford, 121 points; 3rd Subaru, 74 pts; 4th Stobart, 51 pts – 5th Munchi's, 22 pts – 6th Suzuki, 20 pts.

FIA World Rally Championship Driver Standings after round 11 of 15*1st S. Loeb, 86 pts; 2nd M. Hirvonen, 78 points; 3rd D. Sordo, 51 pts; 4th C. Atkinson, 40 pts; 5th JM. Latvala, 34 pts; 6th P. Solberg, 32 pts

*All results subject to FIA confirmation.

Citroen’s 50 WRC wins:

Citroen’s first win was with Philippe Bugalski/Jean-Paul Chiaroni (Citroën Xsara Kit-Car), on Rally Catalunya, 1999. Since then, the 50 wins have been gained as follows:

44 wins with Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: 16 with the C4 WRC and 28 with the Xsara WRC. 2 wins with Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti: Turkey, 2003 (1st win on gravel for the Xsara), and Argentina 2004. 2 wins with Philippe Bugalski/Jean-Paul Chiaroni: Catalunya and Tour de Corse, 1999 (Citroën Xsara Kit-Car). 1 win with Jesus Puras/Marc Marti: the Citroën Xsara WRC's first World Championship win (Tour de Corse, 2001). 1 win for François Duval/Sven Smeet (Australia, 2005). Citroën Sport currently holds the record for the highest number of WRC wins in a single season: 11 (2005). For information, Lancia took 10 wins in 1988.

Citroën World Rally Championship titles

Manufacturers': 2003, 2004 and 2005. Drivers' (with Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena): 2004, 2005 and 2007 (plus 2006 with the Kronos-run Citroën Xsara WRC). Wins per manufacturer since 1973, the inaugural year of the Manufacturers' Championship

Lancia 74 winsFord 67Citroën 50Peugeot 48Subaru 47Toyota Mitsubishi 34Audi 24Etc.

After three rounds in five weekends, the series pauses for breath in September.  It returns with Rally de España in Salou on 2 - 5 October, which is the first of two asphalt rounds in successive weekends.

Final positions 1.  S Loeb/D Elena                      FRA             Citroen C4              3hr 59min 18.9sec 2.  D Sordo/M Marti                     ESP             Citroen C4              3hr 59min 36.4sec 3.  M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen               FIN             Ford Focus RS   4hr 00min 00.4sec 4.  P Solberg/P Mills                   NOR             Subaru Impreza  4hr 02min 07.8sec 5.  U Aava/K Sikk                       EST             Citroen C4              4hr 02min 49.6sec 6.  P-G Andersson/J Andersson   SWE             Suzuki SX4              4hr 06min 56.3sec 7.  T Gardemeister/T Tuominen           FIN             Suzuki SX4              4hr 07min 13.8sec 8.  F Villagra/J Perez Companc  ARG             Ford Focus RS   4hr 07min 53.9sec 9.  H Solberg/C Menkerud                NOR             Ford Focus RS   4hr 08min 34.1sec 10 M Prokop/J Tomanek           CZE             Mitsubishi Lancer       4hr 13min 07.9sec

Drivers                                                 1.  S Loeb                       86pts                  2.  M Hirvonen           78pts                  3.  D Sordo                      51pts                  4.  C Atkinson                   40pts                  5.  J-M Latvala          34pts                  6.  P Solberg                    32pts                 

Manufacturers 1.  Citroen Total               141pts 2.  BP Ford Abu Dhabi   121pts 3.  Subaru                        74pts 4.  Stobart VK M-Sport Ford  51pts 5.  Munchi's Ford                 22pts 6.  Suzuki                        20pts

Stage Times

Stage 12: 1. H Solberg 8min 03.0sec; 2=Wilson, Atkinson + 1.8; 4. P Solberg + 6.3; 5. Hirvonen + 6.4; 6. Sordo + 7.0; 9. Latvala + 12.5.

Overall: 1. Latvala 3hr 05min 44.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 3.2; 3. Sordo + 10.2; 4. Loeb + 17.7; 5. Duval + 1:38.4; 6. P Solberg + 2:46.6.

Stage 13: 1. H Solberg 21min 26.4sec; 2. Hirvonen + 8.6; 3. P Solberg + 10.2; 4. Sordo + 10.5; 5. Loeb + 11.7; 6. Wilson + 16.3; 7. Latvala + 18.9.

Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 27min 22.7sec; 2. Latvala + 7.1; 3. Sordo + 8.9; 4. Loeb + 17.6; 5. Duval + 1:48.5; 6. P Solberg + 2:45.0.

Stage 14: 1. Loeb 7min 47.5sec; 2. Hirvonen + 2.3; 3. H Solberg + 3.4; 4. Latvala + 5.0; 5. Wilson + 5.4; 6. P Solberg + 5.8.

Overall: 1. Hirvonen 3hr 35min 12.5sec; 2. Latvala + 9.8; 3. Sordo + 12.8; 4. Loeb + 15.3; 5. Duval + 1:54.3; 6. P Solberg + 2:48.5.

Stage 15: 1. Loeb 20min 47.0sec; 2. H Solberg + 14.7; 3. P Solberg + 16.5; 4. Sordo + 18.7; 5. Aava + 24.2; 6. Wilson + 31.9; 8. Hirvonen + 57.1.

Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 56min 14.8sec; 2. Sordo + 16.2; 3. Hirvonen + 41.8; 4. P Solberg + 2:49.7; 5. Aava + 3:26.0; 6. Andersson + 7:34.2.

Stage 15: 1. H Solberg 3min 00.6sec; 2. P Solberg + 2.7; 3. Hirvonen + 3.2; 4. Wilson + 3.4; 5. Loeb + 3.5; 6. Villagra + 4.4.

Overall: 1. Loeb 3hr 59min 18.9sec; 2. Sordo + 17.5; 3. Hirvonen + 41.5; 4. P Solberg + 2:48.9; 5. Aava + 3:30.7; 6. Andersson + 7:37.4.


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