Loeb Takes The World Championship
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7th March, 2006
Current world champions, Citroën and Sébastien Loeb, have taken the lead in the World Rally Championship following a thrilling fight to the finish between Loeb and Subaru's Petter Solberg in the Rally of Mexico at the weekend (3rd-5th March 2006).
Loeb got off to a steady start on Friday sweeping the roads clean for the benefit of Petter Solberg amongst others, but still hung on grimly to limit the deficit to just a half a minute. The next step was to make up the time lost, reducing the gap to a combative Solberg. It was only on Saturday night, after SS13, that Sebastien found any sort of breathing space after a very tightly fought battle with the Subaru driver that turned the event into a two horse race. The final phase of the victory plan, which took place on Sunday, consisted of a precise control of the lead, a painstaking task in which Loeb excels.
All victories taste sweet, but for Seb - sheltering under a sombrero at the finish - this one was special.
"To start with, it's the first win that I have the pleasure of sharing with the Kronos team," he explained. "Also, I've won a rally that has not been kind to me in the past. Finally, it's been a win that I've had to go out and grab by the scruff of the neck. The tight battle makes this victory really worth it. Also, it's put us at the top of the championship. In other words, everything is good!"
The same joy was shared by Dani Sordo, who finished just off the podium in fourth place in his first gravel event in the Citroën Xsara WRC.
"How do I describe it?" he commented. "Fourth place is fantastic in itself. Added to that is the satisfaction of having had a good feeling with the Xsara on gravel, setting some decent times, and having made only one mistake - a spin at the start of the rally. Also, I have the knowledge that next I am going to drive the Xsara on asphalt on my home rally - the surface on which I have most experience. So how do you think I feel!"
Understandably, emotion ran high for Marc Van Dalen, Kronos Total Citroen team principal.
"I feel very proud of our team," he said. "It's a big day for Kronos Racing. This win is the result of a complex process that started a long time ago, with the aim of reaching the top. It's also the reward for all the work we did last year, as well as during the off-season, to put our plan for collaboration with Citroen into place, which trusted us and rent us perfect cars. This triumph tastes all the sweeter because it has been given to us by Sébastien and Daniel - an extraordinary duo both in the car and out of it. Now we must not rest: we have to keep working and build on our success!"
Stage winsLeg 1.
SS1, 2, 3 and 4 : Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza)
SS5 and 6 : Sébastien Loeb (Citroën Xsara)
SS7 : Manfred Stohl (Peugeot 307).
SS8: S. Loeb
SS9: P. Solberg
SS10, 11, 12, 13 and 14: S. Loeb.
SS15: S. Loeb
SS16: P. Solberg
SS17: M. Stohl.
S. Loeb, 9 fastest times
Final leaderboard Corona Rally México 20061. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën Xsara) 3 h 47 min 8,8 s
2. P. Solberg/Ph. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 48,9 s
3. M. Stohl/I. Minor (Peugeot 307) + 4 min 39,1 s
4. D. Sordo/M. Marti (Citroën Xsara) + 5 min 27,7 s
5. H. Solberg/C. Menkerud (Peugeot 307) + 12 min 35,4 s
6. G. Mac Hale/P. Nagle (Ford Focus) + 16 min 02,3 s
7. Ch. Atkinson/G. Macneall (Subaru Impreza) + 20 min 39,5 s
8. M. Grönholm/T. Rautiainen (Ford Focus) + 21 min 44,2 s …
FIA World Rally Championship standings for Manufacturers after round 31. Kronos Total Citroën WRT, 34 pts
2. BP Ford WRT, 30 pts
3. OMV Peugeot Norway, 21 pts
4. Subaru WRT, 20 pts
5. Stobart VK/MSport Ford RT, 9 pts
6. Red BullŠkoda, 3 pts.
FIA World Rally Championship standings for Drivers after round 31. S. Loeb (F), 26 pts
2. M. Grönholm (FIN), 21 pts
3. M. Stohl (A), 11 pts
4. P. Solberg (N), 8 pts
5. T. Gardemeister (FIN), 6 pts -
6. D. Carlsson (S), 6 pts -
7. D. Sordo (E), 6 pts
8. G. Galli (I), 5 pts -
9. H. Solberg (N), 5 pts -
10. Ch. Atkinson (AUS), 5 pts
11. S. Sarrazin (F), 4 pts -
12. Th. Rådström, 4 pts -
13. G. MacHale (IRL), 3 pts -
14. K. Katajamäki (FIN), 3 pts -
15. X. Pons (E), 2 pts -
16. M. Hirvonen (FIN), 2 pts.
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