Sébastien Loeb is on the verge of a record-breaking fifth FIA World Rally Championship title after he and co-driver Daniel Elena took their Citroën C4 WRC car to victory on the Rallye de France, held on the island of Corsica.
Loeb dominated his home rally, winning 14 of 16 stages, to beat rival Mikko Hirvonen by over three minutes and extend his championship lead to 14 points with two rallies to go.
Loeb, whose fourth consecutive Corsica victory means that he and Elena have already equalled their record of 10 WRC wins in a single season, said of the weekend: “Winning your home event is always something special. Our tactic this weekend was to pull gradually clear to begin with, then hopefully control from in front. We are unbeaten this year on asphalt and we have pulled further clear at the top of the championship standings. The weekend could have been worse!”
A third place finish in either of the remaining two rounds would give Loeb a record fifth world title to add to his 46 WRC career wins. The next round, in Japan, takes place on October 31-November 2.
In the Junior World Rally Championship, France’s Sébastien Ogier - often dubbed “the new Sébastien” - clinched the 2008 title as Citroën claimed all four top places in the category Loeb won in 2001.
Final leaderboard on 52nd Rally de France - Tour de Corse*
1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën C4) 3h 42min 58.0s 2. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) + 3 min 24.7s 3. F. Duval/P. Pivato (Ford Focus) + 3 min 31.6s 4. JM. Latvala/M. Anttila (Ford Focus) + 3 min 37.5s 5. P. Solberg/P. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 5 min 35.4s 6. C. Atkinson/S. Prevot (Subaru Impreza) + 6 min 10.4s
FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturer Standings after round 13 of 15*1st Citroën-Total, 169 points; 2nd Ford, 146 points; 3rd Subaru, 87 pts; 4th Stobart, 60 pts; 5th Munchi's, 22 pts; 6th Suzuki, 21 pts.
FIA World Rally Championship Driver Standings after round 13 of 15*1st S. Loeb, 106 points; 2nd M. Hirvonen, 92 pts; 3rd D. Sordo, 59 pts; 4th C. Atkinson, 45 pts; 5th JM. Latvala, 42 pts; 6th P. Solberg, 40 pts
*All results subject to FIA confirmation