Flawless Loeb clinches victory in Greece
Athens, May 28, 2012
First Published: 15:37 IST(28/5/2012)
Last Updated: 15:48 IST(28/5/2012)
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Sebastien Loeb produced a faultless display on the final day of the Rally of Greece to win the event for the third time after main rival Petter Solberg crashed out.
Sebastien Loeb withstood a brief challenge from Petter Solberg to emerge victorious in the Acropolis Rally. AP PHOTO
The French world champion began the day in his Citroen DS3 WRC with a 10.2 seconds advantage over Solberg but after his Norwegian rival crashed on the opening test of Sunday's five stages, Loeb finished 40 seconds ahead of team mate Mikko Hirvonen with an overall time of 4:42:03.3 over the four days.
The victory came despite a late scare, when Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena had to stop to change a puncture on stage 20.
It was Loeb's fourth victory in six rallies in this season's championship and by claiming three bonus points for winning the event-closing Power Stage, he increased his lead over Finland's Hirvonen in the overall standings to 30 points.
"This rally was so long and difficult," Loeb said after his 71st career rally triumph.
"We had some fortune in the morning, but in general we had to fight really hard. It was really good. I tried to always keep my rhythm and do what I felt."
Solberg's misfortune - he tore a rear wheel off his car after hitting a tree - allowed Hirvonen to move into second spot with Jari-Matti Latvala securing the final podium place in third, the Finn marking his return from a broken collarbone in style by claiming 10 fastest stage times.
"I am happy with the result, after Friday I didn't have so much to do except just try not to make mistakes and bring the car back safely," said Hirvonen.
"It's a very good result for the team, they have done a fantastic job with the car. I believe I can be faster than this."