Sebastien Loeb takes Norwegian win for  Citroen!

Sebastien Loeb takes Norwegian win for Citroen!

15.02.2009: Frenchman Sebastien Loeb held his nerve through the final stage this afternoon to take a sensational debut victory for the Citroen Total team on Rally Norway. oeb led from the front - as first car on the road on all three days - to finish the rally 9.8sec

Frenchman Sebastien Loeb held his nerve through the final stage this afternoon to take a sensational debut victory for the Citroen Total team on Rally Norway.

Loeb led from the front - as first car on the road on all three days - to finish the rally 9.8sec ahead of the man in second place, Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen.

Loeb’s victory was the 49th of his record breaking WRC career and gives him a perfect winning record on the two rallies so far this year. As he fights for an unprecedented sixth consecutive WRC drivers’ title, the C4 WRC driver leads the drivers’ standings on 20 points, six ahead of Mikko Hirvonen in second.

“It’s been a great rally but a very difficult one!” said a jubilant Loeb at the end of the final stage. “I had to push on the limit from the very first stage to the last, and mentally it’s been difficult to keep pushing, knowing we could lose everything right up until the last corner. I really wanted to win here on snow and it’s a great feeling. It’s been a wonderful rally; the stages are incredible and it’s so much more exiting when you are in a close fight!”

Mikko Hirvonen, team leader of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team said: “Yes I’m sad we came second but I’m glad it’s finished. It was a close fight but it didn’t go well for me all the way through.

“I don’t have any regrets about deliberately dropping time on Friday, it was only one or two seconds and that wouldn’t be enough to make a difference. He was quicker yesterday and that was that. Now we have to go to the next rally and go flat-out. Hopefully we can do better there,” added the Finn.

Despite a last stage scare, Mikko’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala finished third, ensuring both Ford’s works-team entries made the podium. “After a long straight I overshot a junction,” explained the Finn. “It’s been a frustrating weekend - not what I was hoping for - but third place is very important. I hope to be in the lead fight again on the next round in Cyprus.”

Henning Solberg was the best placed Norwegian driver, bringing his VK M-Sport Ford Focus home in fourth. “This rally has been absolutely perfect - the only thing missing is a Norwegian on the podium,” he said. But that’s how it is. I have to say I’m quite happy. Next we move to Cyprus. I love it there and want to go well.”

Loeb’s Citroen Total team-mate Dani Sordo rounded off the top five places in his C4 WRC. “It’s been a difficult surface for me and I’m happy to get to the end,” said the
Spaniard. “I think I did quite well, even though I had problems with my pace notes, and I’m happy with the feeling I had at the end of the rally. I’ll try and learn more before the next time we’re on snow.”

Petter Solberg was sixth on his first event with his own rally team and was delighted to finish in the points on his home rally. “It’s a dream to just be here - we didn’t even have a team three weeks ago!” said Petter. “I was so worried about the clutch on the last few stages I used the normal gearshift system and lost four or five seconds on every start - so it was close! I want to say thank you to everybody who has helped up get here. Now we have to analyse the event and see what we can do. We want to get faster. There will be no more Mr Nice Guy in Cyprus.”

Seventh placed Matthew Wilson said he was encouraged by his rally in the second of the Stobart VK M-Sport Fords. “It’s been a hell of a fight today but I’m cursing myself for not pushing harder this morning. Still, to only lose 8sec to Petter over the whole day is not a bad effort," he said.

Eighth place, and the final drivers’ championship point, went to Estonian Urmo Aava in the third Stobart VK M-Sport car. It took me a lot of time to find the right rhythm here,” he said. “We lost time and struggled on Friday and Saturday mornings, but from then on it started to be better and today it’s been quite enjoyable.”

Mads Ostberg was ninth in the first of the Adapta Subaru Imprezas. “It’s been a very frustrating time,” he said. “We continued to have problems right through to the last stage - in the end my co-driver and I were just last laughing about it. I didn’t event bother getting angry. Now I’m glad we can sit down with a sheet of A3 paper and start to write down all our problems.”


- Full results on www.wrc.com  also videos, reports, analysis / photos Willy Weyens
Photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS SLIDESHOWS and Photos Ecards WRC Rallyes

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15.02.2009 / MaP

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