Loeb takes title on home soil

  • Last Updated: October 7 2012, 18:18 BST

Sebastien Loeb wrapped up his ninth consecutive World Rally Championship title in style with victory on home soil in France.

Loeb (right) celebrates title number nine with Elena

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Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena once again underlined their dominance of the sport as they finished 15.5 seconds ahead of Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala in the overall standings after the 22nd and final stage of the Rallye de France.

Loeb's 75th WRC win is his eighth in 11 races so far this season, and sees him wrap up yet another title with two rounds to spare.

"It has been a great moment. We had been dreaming of it since the weekend began, it is pure happiness," Loeb told reporters.

Loeb's win also secured Citroen their eighth manufacturers' crown, but also heralded the end of an era with the Frenchman previously announcing he would not defend his title in 2013, electing instead for a part-time WRC programme.

"The season has been perfect but I want to enjoy this rather than think about this title being our last together," he added, referring to long-time co-driver Elena.

With 244 points, Loeb is 71 ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen with two races to go.

Latvala's strong run to second place - the Finn following up his win in Britain last time out - denied Citroen the further satisfaction of a one-two finish, with Hirvonen coming home in third place, 44 seconds adrift of his team-mate.

Citroen Junior's Thierry Neuville was on superb form today, winning five of the final day's six stages as he claimed a career-best fourth place overall, ahead of Mads Ostberg.

Ott Tanak took sixth, while the top 10 was rounded out by Evgeny Novikov, Chris Atkinson, Martin Prokop and Sebastien Chardonnet.

Loeb celebrated his latest world-title success at the finish of the final stage in his hometown of Haguenau, where a large crowd had gathered to hail their hero.

"It's incredible,'' said Loeb. "We were dreaming about this moment at the start of the rally. Now we are here again with the victory and the championship in front of all these wonderful people.

"It's not possible to get better than this, it was a dream all weekend in front of all these fans.''

Result: 1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 3hrs 32mins 53.000secs, 2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford 3:33:08.500, 3 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Citroen 3:33:37.100, 4 Thierry Neuville (Bel) Citroen 3:34:00.300, 5 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Ford 3:34:09.400, 6 Ott Tanak (Est) Ford 3:35:20.900, 7 Evgeny Novikov (Rus) Ford 3:38:44.600, 8 Chris Atkinson (Aus) Citroen 3:39:35.400, 9 Martin Prokop (Cze) Ford 3:41:39.800, 10 Sebastien Chardonnet (Fra) Renault 3:41:52.700

Drivers' Championship standings: 1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 219pts, 2 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Citroen 158, 3 Petter Solberg (Nor) Ford 119, 4 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Ford 114, 5 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford 113, 6 Evgeny Novikov (Rus) Ford 63, 7 Martin Prokop (Cze) Ford 40, 8 Thierry Neuville (Bel) Citroen 38, 9 Daniel Sordo (Spa) Mini 31, 10 Sebastien Ogier (Fra) Skoda 31

Manufacturers' Championship standings: 1 Citroen 348pts, 2 Ford 237, 3 M-Sport 123, 4 Qatar 63, 5 Adapta 61, 6 Citroen Junior 60, 7 Mini 26, 8 Brazil 20