Sébastien Loeb wins Ireland Rally

Sébastien Loeb wins Ireland Rally

01.02.2009: Sébastien Loeb negotiated the final 1.5km Donegal Town stage without a hitch to take victory on the 2009 Rally Ireland this afternoon The result was Loeb’s 48th career win and his second on the Irish round of the World Rally Championship, which he last w

Sebastien Loeb negotiated the final 1.5km Donegal Town stage without a hitch to take victory on the 2009 Rally Ireland this afternoon

The result was Loeb’s 48th career win and his second on the Irish round of the World Rally Championship, which he last won in 2007.

His team-mate Dani Sordo finished second, as he had done in 2007, making it an emphatic one-two result for the Citroen Total World Rally Team.

“It’s been a really tough rally but I’m very happy to take the 10 points,” said Loeb. “Tarmac rallies are especially important to me. This one has been tricky for everyone, but now we’re here at the finish with maximum points. It’s a good start to the season!”

Second place netted Dani Sordo eight points in the 2009 drivers’ championship. “It’s a really, really good result for us to start the year with,” said the Spaniard. “I’m happy for me and for the team. The conditions have been bad - we’ve had some crazy stages - but it’s been a great result!”

Mikko Hirvonen finished third in his BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team Focus RS WRC, collecting six championship points and slotting behind Sordo in the 2009 drivers’ standings.

“It’s a good start to the season,” said the Finn. “We had some problems this weekend; I was hoping I could fight with Sordo but maybe that will come another time. It’s still a good start to my season. Now I’m looking forward to the next round in Norway.”

Henning Solberg finished fourth in his Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team Focus. The result was the Norwegians best ever finish on a WRC asphalt rally. “It’s a big step for me and I am very, very happy!” said the Norwegian. “I think everybody had problems on this rally, but we got to the finish and now we’re ready for my home rally. In Norway I want to change the positions of the Fords and the Citroens - I’m going for victory there.”

After his penultimate stage mistake Citroen Junior Team driver Chris Atkinson brought his C4 WRC to the finish in fifth. “I’m still really happy,” said the Australian. “At the end we made a mistake, but we had a good, solid day yesterday. The guys at the team did a great job and the car ran perfectly. This is an amazing car to drive and I want to do some more events in it. Now we want to get some backers on board to make that happen.”

Atkinson’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier finished sixth - on only his second outing in a WRC specification car. “Overall it’s been a good experience,” said Ogier. “We got more experience, we made it to the finish and we got three points for the championship. It was good I think.”

Matthew Wilson was seventh, taking two points on his 50th World Championship Rally. “I think it’s the first time I’ve finished round one with some points,” said the Brit. “I’m a little bit disappointed with the conditions, as they didn’t allow us to push. But I enjoyed the Super Special - I think we were the most sideways!”

In eighth place, and collecting his first ever WRC drivers’ point, was Khalid Al Qassimi of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team. “It’s the first rally of the new season, and to score a point is a good thing,” said Khalid. “It’s not been an easy event but I’ve lifted my pace after problems early on. I got back up and it’s ended up being a good event for me. I hope we’ll get better and better as the season progresses.”


Local hero Eamonn Boland brought his privately entered Subaru Impreza across the line in ninth. “It’s great to finish as top Irishman,” said Boland. “Everything went perfectly this year, and it’s great to be able to do that here in Ireland!”

Estonian Urmo Aava rounded off the top ten. “I’m happy that we were able to lead a rally for the first time in our lives - that is very important to us,” he said. “If you look at the rally overall it’s been positive. We got lots of experience of the car and this rally, and that’s going to be good for the next time.”

- full results, interviews, videos and more on www.wrc.com  photos copyright Willy WEYENS
photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS-SLIDESHOWS  - Photos-Ecards under PHOTOS - WRC Rallyes

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01.02.2009 / MaP

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