Sebastien Loeb wins Rally New Zealand image

Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb won his third Rally of New Zealand on Sunday to extend his lead over team mate Mikko Hirvonen by 29.6 seconds.

Loeb, who led at the end of all three days of the 22-stage rally, held a 6.4 second advantage over Hirvonen at the start of the final day which comprised seven stages.

“It’s been a long weekend and my driving has not been perfect,” Loeb said.

“We made a few mistakes in the closing power stage, when we were pushing too hard but the most important thing is that we have won.”

It was Loeb’s fifth rally win of the season, 72nd of his career and his third in New Zealand.

Petter Solberg meanwhile took third for Ford, albeit more than a minute off P2, after opting for the wrong tyres on Friday morning.

Evgney Novikov was fourth for the M-Sport Ford team, ahead of Thierry Neuville and Prodrive MINI man, Dani Sordo.

The only major incident of the day came when Estonian Ott Tanak rolled his Ford out of fifth place in the fast Puhoi stage this afternoon. He and his co-driver Kuldar Sikk escaped without injury.

Rally New Zealand RESULTS
1. Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen DS3) 4hr 04min 51.2sec
2. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citroen DS3) at 29.6s
3. Petter Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta) 1min 36.4s
4. Evgeny Novikov (RUS/Ford Fiesta) 2:13.6
5. Thierry Neuville (BEL/Citroen DS3) 2:42.4
6. Dani Sordo (ESP/Mini) 3:03.1
7. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 4:52.9
8.Armindo Araujo (POR/Mini) 9:36.4
9. Ken Block (USA/Ford Fiesta) 10:30.3
10. Manfred Stohl (AUT/Ford Fiesta) 11:26.3.

Stage winners
Loeb 7 (SS3, SS4, SS5, SS7, SS8, SS12, SS13)
Latvala 5 (SS1, SS10, SS14, SS21, SS22)
Hirvonen 3 (SS2, SS6, SS15)
Neuville 3 (SS16, SS17, SS20)
Solberg 2 (SS9, SS11)
Sordo 2 (SS18, SS19).