Loeb takes second Finland victory posted on 01 August 2011
Sébastien Loeb, and co-driver Daniel Elena, won Rally Finland this weekend, finishing 8.1 seconds ahead of their nearest competitor. The win, the French crews’ second at Rally Finland, was rounded off by Sébastien Ogier’s and Julien Ingrassia’s third place finish.
With two Citroën DS3 WRCs on the podium, the Citroën Total World Rally Team has consolidated first place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship while Sébastien Loeb increases his lead in the Drivers’ World Championship to 27 points.
Three crews broke away from the pack in the first two days as Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier had to fight off Finn Jari-Matti Latvala. Having taken an early lead, the seven-time world champion was first out on the road and he was afraid he would meet conditions less favourable than those faced by his direct rivals. The no.1 decided that attack was the best form of defence and tried to open up a gap on roads that were still damp from the morning dew. In Leustu 1 (SS12), Loeb stunned his rivals by beating Ogier by 6.4s and Latvala by 10.7s in 21,35 kilometres. “I was on the limit everywhere. I drove my heart out,” he gasped.
In the next stage he underlined his determination by setting another fastest time. Despite this, Ogier wasn’t giving up: “It’s not over yet. I’m going to keep pushing. The gap’s only ten seconds, and Latvala’s not far behind.”
Loeb continued to push hard and despite increasingly difficult conditions, he managed to hold on to his first place and take the victory in the country of a 1000 Lakes, the first-non Finn to achieve such a performance. The win in Finland marks Loeb’s fourth win of the season and has also helped Citroën reach another record breaking landmark of seven consecutive wins in a season.
The seven-time world champion now has 66 WRC victories with Citroën since the 2002 season. “It’s one of the greatest wins of my career. But I had to work for it and it took a long time before it took shape. Sometimes you have to go beyond the limits to open up the gap. I felt really good on the roads with the Citroën DS3 WRC, even more so than in the past with the Xsara or the C4. My aim was to be in the lead in the world championship before the events on tarmac. I’ve achieved it, but there are still a lot of points up for grabs.”
Ogier’s hopes of victory were punctured in SS17 when he suffered a flat tyre. The former Junior World Champion finished on the podium behind Jari-Matti Latvala, 12.8s behind the winner. “It was all going pretty well until the last loop. We were in a good position to push for victory until we punctured. I feel frustrated because it was a racing incident that ruined our chances.”
Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal, commented: “We fully believe in our decision to give our two drivers free rein to race. Each crew had its own strategy and could apply it depending on the circumstances. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena mastered the situation perfectly. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were in a position to fight for victory until their puncture. I want to congratulate the technical team for the work done on the DS3 which has shown again an incredible level of performance and reliability.”