Loeb holds off Hirvonen to take 50th win

Loeb is the first driver in history to reach 50 wins, he entered today's stages with a lead of 49.8 seconds over Mikko Hirvonen  - finishing with a victory margin of 27.2 seconds.

"It's incredible. I remember when I beat the record number of wins of Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae," said Loeb.

"Now 50 is a really a big number, a nice number. I'm really happy with what we are achieving at the moment, but it's not finished, we're not stopping yet.

Hirvonen was a disappointed second but is hopeful that the next round of the series in Portugal will show an improved pace when the rally moved onto gravel surfaces during the second and third days.

 Petter Solberg  finished a delighted third.

 Next round

The championship stays on gravel when Rally de Portugal returns to the series after a year's absence on 2 - 5 April.  The fourth round will again be based at Faro on the Algarve.

Final positions

1.  S Loeb/D Elena                      FRA             Citroen C4              4hr 50min 34.7sec 2.  M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen               FIN             Ford Focus RS   4hr 51min 01.9sec 3.  P Solberg/P Mills                   NOR             Citroen Xsara           4hr 52min 24.1sec 4.  D Sordo/M Marti                     ESP             Citroen C4              4hr 53min 01.0sec 5.  M Wilson/S Martin           GBR             Ford Focus RS   4hr 57min 15.7sec 6.  C Rautenbach/D Barritt              ZIM             Citroen C4              5hr 01min 46.6sec 7.  F Villagra/J Perez Companc  ARG             Ford Focus RS   5hr 03min 53.2sec 8.  K Al Qassimi/M Orr          UAE             Ford Focus RS   5hr 04min 18.8sec 9.  P Sandell/E Axelsson                SWE             Skoda Fabia             5hr 10min 11.3sec 10 A Araujo/M Ramalho           POR             Mitsubishi Lancer       5hr 10min 29.6sec

Drivers                                                 1.  S Loeb                        30pts                 2.  M Hirvonen            22pts                 3.  D Sordo                       17pts                 4.  H Solberg                     10pts                 5.  P Solberg                       9pts                        6.  M Wilson                        8pts       

Manufacturers   1.  Citroen Total                 48pts 2.  BP Ford Abu Dhabi     32pts 3.  Stobart VK M-Sport Ford  22pts 4.  Citroen Junior                11pts 5.  Munchi's Ford                   3pts

Stage Times

Stage 12: 1. Hirvonen 26min 18.7sec; 2. P Solberg + 4.6; 3. Loeb + 5.8; 4. Latvala + 6.3; 5. Sordo + 7.3; 6. H Solberg + 26.9; 11. Al Qassimi + 1:40.1.

Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 00min 08.3sec; 2. Hirvonen + 44.0; 3. Sordo + 1:37.5; 4. P Solberg + 1:50.7; 5. Wilson + 6:05.5; 6. Ogier + 6:20.6; 9. Al Qassimi + 11:03.9; 14. Latvala + 22:25.4.

Stage 13: 1. Hirvonen 39min 27.2sec; 2. P Solberg + 12.6; 3. Latvala + 16.3; 4. Loeb + 17.1; 5. Ogier + 32.7; 6. H Solberg + 38.9; 10. Al Qassimi + 2:20.2.

Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 39min 52.6sec; 2. Hirvonen + 26.9; 3. P Solberg + 1:46.2; 4. Sordo + 2:14.7; 5. Ogier + 6:36.2; 6. Wilson + 6:41.3; 9. Al Qassimi + 13:07.0; 13. Latvala + 22:24.6.

Stage 14: 1= Latvala, Wilson 10min 41.8sec; 3. Loeb + 0.3; 4. Hirvonen + 0.6; 5. P Solberg + 3.5; 6. H Solberg + 11.8; 9. Al Qassimi + 37.4.

Overall: 1. Loeb 4hr 50min 34.7sec; 2. Hirvonen + 27.2; 3. P Solberg + 1:49.4; 4. Sordo + 2:26.3; 5. Wilson + 6:41.0; 6. Rautenbach + 11:11.9; 8. Al Qassimi + 13:44.1; 12. Latvala + 22:24.3.