Sebastien Loeb has stretched his lead in the chase for an eighth FIA World Rally Championship after securing his 64th WRC round victory on Rally d’Italia Sardegna in Italy yesterday.
The Frenchman began the fifth race of the season expecting a tough time in his role as first man on track – therefore clearing a line through the dusty gravel for drivers behind – but instead set competitive times from start to finish.
“Sébastien Loeb drove an extraordinary rally. To win here while being first on the road in all three legs is a mega performance,” summed up Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën General Manager. “ Sébastien Ogier wasn’t very lucky today but he scored good points. Yet again I was impressed by the professionalism of the whole team, which works in a serene, cooperative and enthusiastic ambience.”
Loeb told reporters “Mikko was pushing very hard behind so we really had to take big risks all the time. We lost time in some places because of the cleaning but we took it back in some other places.”
Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen was second, 11.2 seconds behind, while Citroen’s Petter Solberg took third a further 23.8 seconds in Loeb’s wake.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the flag in fourth place scoring precious points for the Citroën Total World Rally Team, which now leads the Manufacturers’ Championship.
The WRC moves next to South America for Rally Argentina on 26-29 May.
Results –Rally d’Italia Sardegna, WRC Round 5 of 13:
1 S. Loeb (Citroen, France)
2 M. Hirvonen (Ford, Finland) +11.2 sec. behind next car
3 P. Solberg (Norway, Citroen) +12.6 sec.
4 S. Ogier (Citroen, France) +1 min. 07.7 sec.
5 M. Ostberg (Norway, Ford) +1 min. 11.1 sec.
WRC Drivers standings after Rd 5:
1 S. Loeb 100
2 M. Hirvonen 93
3 S. Ogier 81
4 J. Latvala (Finland) 68
5 P. Solberg 46
WRC Manufacturers standings after Rd 5:
1 Citroen Total World Rally Team 167
2 Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 150
3 M-Sport Stobart Ford Rally Team 61
4 Petter Solberg World Rally Team 37
5 Ice 1 Racing 26