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Loeb takes 49th WRC victory with Norway win

Loeb takes 49th WRC victory with Norway win  
Filed under:
Motorsport
on 02/17/2009



Sébastien Loeb claimed his 49th World Rally Championship victory in Norway at the weekend as he won a thrilling battle with rival Mikko Hirvonen. With his first win on the event, five-times World Champion Loeb now stands just one win away from becoming the first rally driver ever to claim 50 victories at the highest level.


After securing the opening Rally of 2009 in Ireland, Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena ran at the head of the field from day one but, despite the disadvantage of being the first cars to sweep away the loose snow on each stage, they managed to stay out front throughout the weekend.

Entering the final day with just 15 seconds’ advantage, Loeb lost five seconds to Hirvonen on the first stage before gaining six seconds back on the next. The two drivers then traded fastest times throughout the rest of the day and, with Loeb quickest in the final stage, victory went to the Citroën Total team.

"Mentally, this has been a very tough rally,” said Loeb, who now holds a six-point lead in the championship. “It got very tense when I learnt that Mikko had narrowed the gap on this morning's first stage but we didn't ease up, even if that did mean having one or two hairy moments! Going into the last stage, I knew that even a small mistake would ruin all the hard work we have put in this weekend. Everything turned out well, however, and it's great to have won this rally for the first time."

After coming second in Ireland, Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo and co-driver Marc Marti finished fifth in their C4 WRC and helped to maintain Citroën’s 10-point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Driving an independent, three-year-old Citroën Xsara for the first time in the WRC, 2003 Champion Petter Solberg finished an impressive sixth.

The next rally will be on the third different surface of the year, the gravel-based Rally Cyprus from 13-15 March.

Final leaderboard on Rally Norway*
1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën C4) 3h28min15.9s
2. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) +9.8s
3. J-M. Latvala /M. Anttila (Ford Focus) +1min 21.8s
4. H. Solberg/C. Menkerud (Ford Focus) +3min 33.5s
5. D. Sordo/M. Marti (Citroën C4) +3min 52.0s
6. P. Solberg/P. Mills (Citroën Xsara) +6min 25.4s

FIA World Rally Championship Manufacturer Standings after round 2 of 12*
1st Citroën Total WRT, 32 pts; 2nd BP Ford Abu Dhabi, 22 points; 3rd Stobart VK M-Sport, 16 pts; 4th Citroën Junior Team, 7 pts.

FIA World Rally Championship Driver Standings after round 2 of 12*
1st S. Loeb, 20 pts; 2nd M. Hirvonen, 14 pts; 3rd D. Sordo, 12 points; 4th H. Solberg, 10 pts; 5th J-M Latvala, 6 pts; 6th C. Atkinson, 4 pts.



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