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Loeb scores hat-trick

18th Apr 2010 7:00 am

Loeb scores hat-trick with Turkey win.

Sebastien Loeb stretched his winning run to a third straight rally victory as he took an ultimately-comfortable first place in Turkey.

The world champion hit the front when Citroen Junior driver Sebastien Ogier fell back with a tyre problem on Saturday afternoon, and then escaped from the pack on Sunday.

Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen both hoped they could keep the pressure on Loeb this morning, but were left short of time to do so when two stages were cancelled due to poor road conditions after overnight downpours - and then cost themselves time with mistakes.

There was no repeat of the controversial tactics employed in Jordan, with the leaders preferring to push and try to win from the front rather than slowing to force rivals to run first on the dusty roads.

Loeb was pleased he had been able to win in this manner - although he said the likelihood of rain on Sunday morning made the decision easier. "We decided to stay first on the road and it was a good choice," said Loeb.

After a scare when he went off and brushed a tree on the first stage out of service on the final day while trying to chase down Loeb, Solberg eased off and made sure of second place.

Hirvonen also had a fright, hitting a rock and picking up a puncture. That dropped him to fourth behind Dani Sordo, but he regained a podium place when the Citroen slid off, clipped a tree and broke its suspension with two stages to go.

Ogier had been the star of the first half of the weekend, emerging in the lead after early exchanges with Solberg and Hirvonen, then inching away from the huge battle between the works Fords, works Citroens and Solberg and holding first place.

Although he was always unlikely to be allowed to beat Loeb to a win, he was looking comfortable up front until a tyre blew on Saturday afternoon, relegating him to fourth in the end.

His Citroen Junior team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had his best World Rally Championship outing so far, winning an early battle with Federico Villagra (Munchi's Ford) and Matthew Wilson (Stobart Ford) to take fifth.

"It has been a good weekend for us - no big mistakes and no problems with the car," said Raikkonen. "Okay, we got two places because other guys went off, but that's part of it and I think we improved."

Classification:
 1.  Sebastien Loeb - Citroen 3h01m38.7s
 2.  Petter Solberg - Citroen + 54.5s
 3.  Mikko Hirvonen - Ford + 1m43.4s
 4.  Sebastien Ogier - Citroen + 3m46.0s
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen - Citroen + 6m44.3s
 6.  Federico Villagra - Ford + 7m56.7s
 7.  Matthew Wilson - Ford + 8m29.8s
 8.  Jari-Matti Latvala - Ford + 19m44.2s
 9.  Dennis Kuipers - Ford + 23m22.2s
10.  Aaron Burkart - Suzuki + 27m04.7s

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