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Loeb Takes His 40th World Rally Win In Sardina - (Global)

May 19th, 2008

Sébastien Loeb has recorded his 40th World Rally Championship win at the weekend (18 May 2008); further extending Citroën driver’s lead as the most successful rally driver of all time and narrowing the gap between Loeb and the lead of the 2008 title chase.

With the second Citroën Total car finishing fifth in the hands of Dani Sordo and Marc Martí, the gap at the sharp end of the Manufacturers' standings remains unchanged.

The fact that Loeb led the 2008 Rally of Sardinia from stage two underplays what a tough event it was the world champion and his team mate, Dani Sordo. Day one saw a gentle start for Loeb, with a fourth fastest on stage one as he found his feet in the event. But a charge started on stage two and by end of day one he had a lead of more than 37 seconds over his team mate, with a resurgent Subaru separating the Citroën drivers from their main opposition, the Ford team.

Day two however, was a far tougher day for the four-time world champion and while he still managed to increase his overnight lead in the morning - up to 42 seconds heading into the mid-day halt - he was struggling running first on the road and having to sweep away the loose gravel, slowing his Citroën down and making life easier – and faster – for those who followed him. In the afternoon the Ford drivers further cut into Loeb’s leading, dropping it to less than 30 seconds.

On the final day, with their closest chasers just 29.4s behind, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena knew exactly what they needed to do:

"We'll be first on the road again," explained Seb, "so there's every chance we will see the same scenario as yesterday.”

Indeed, the Frenchman dropped 10.3s on SS13, "which was slow, narrow, and very bumpy in places,” he later reported after achieving the exploit of posting the fastest time on the following test.

"We gave it every thing we had on SS14. We put of our braking to the last possible moment and profited from the wider, faster road which probably had less surface gravel."

Seb went into the day's second loop with a cushion of 23 seconds, a handy yet relatively slender lead. The crew of the number one Citroën C4 WRC succeeded in controlling superbly from in front, however, to line up for the short, final stage with an advantage of 12.9s, which they promptly converted into victory over the last, 2.62km test.

"Our 40th WRC win was certainly hard work," beamed Seb at the finish. "The weekend was very frustrating at times, especially because of all the 'road-sweeping' that had to be done, but we managed to hold on to a big enough lead to finish on top. The reason was little more we could have done: we didn't make any mistakes and our C4 performed absolutely perfectly. Not to have won would have been a huge disappointment, so I'm very happy, not only for us but also for the team and for our situation in the two championships. The weekend showed once again that our car is competitive over this sort of terrain, and that's encouraging for the coming rounds."

Dani Sordo and Marc Martí finished fifth after a good rally and a thrilling fight with Gigi Galli.

"I didn't succeed in really upping my pace," commented Dani. "We tried several solutions, but I failed to find a set­up that allowed me to make the most of our C4's potential. I'm a bit disappointed, but I'm still pleased with our performance on the first day and with the points we have scored for Citroën. There is still a long way to go this season, and there will be other opportunities to finish on the podium."


Rally statistics

Stage wins
Day 1: SS1: Jari­Matti Latvala (Ford Focus) – SS2 and SS3: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C4) – SS4: Gigi Galli (Ford Focus) – SS5: S. Loeb – SS6: J.M. Latvala.
Day 2: SS7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and SS12: J.M. Latvala.
Day 3: SS13: Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Focus) – SS14: S. Loeb – SS15: J.M. Latvala – SS16: M. Hirvonen – SS17: J.M. Latvala.

Best performers: J.M. Latvala, 10 fastest times – S. Loeb, 4 – M. Hirvonen, 2 – G. Galli, 1.

Leaders: SS1: J.M. Latvala – SS2 to SS17: S. Loeb.

Final leaderboard on 5th Rally d'Italia Sardegna* (6/15)
1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën C4) 3 h 57 min 17,2 s
2. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) + 10,6 s
3. JM. Latvala/M. Anttila (Ford Focus) + 15,3 s
4. G. Galli/G. Bernacchini (Ford Focus) + 1 min 42,5 s
5. D. Sordo/M. Martí (Citroën C4) + 2 min 05,6 s
6. C. Atkinson/S. Prevot (Subaru Impreza) + 5 min 08,6 s
7. H. Solberg/C. Menkerud (Ford Focus) + 6 min 01 s
8. U.Aava/K.Sikk(CitroënC4) + 6 min 21,3s
9. PG. Andersson/J. Andersson (Suzuki X4) + 7 min 48,7 s
10. P. Solberg/P. Mill (Subaru Impreza) + 9 min 41 s


FIA World rally Championship’s rankings ‘Manufacturers’ (round 5/15)*
1. Ford, 71 points – 2. Citroën­Total, 64 pts – 3. Subaru, 42 pts – 4. Stobart, 34 pts – 5. Munchi's, 16 pts – 6. Suzuki, 7 pts.

FIA World rally Championship’s rankings ‘Drivers’ (round 6/15)*
1. M. Hirvonen, 43 points – 2. S. Loeb, 40 pts – 3. C. Atkinson, 31 pts – 4. JM Latvala, 24 pts – 5. D. Sordo, 21 pts – 6. G. Galli, 17 pts – 7. H. Solberg, 11 pts – 8. P. Solberg, 9 pts – 9. F. Villagra, 8 pts – 10. M. Wilson, 7 pts – 11.C.Rautenbach,5pts – 12. F. Duval, 5 pts – 13. A. Mikkelsen, 4 pts – 14. JM. Cuoq, 2 pts – 15. T. Gardemeister, 2 pts – 16. A. Aigner, 1 pt – 17. PG. Andersson, 1 pt – 18. J. Hänninen, 1 pt – 19.S.Ogier,1pt – U.Aava,1pt.

*Subject to final publications of the results by the FIA.

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