Loeb triumphs in Mexico
1st Mar 2010 8:00 am
Loeb takes WRC lead with a win in Rally Mexico.
Sebastien Loeb has moved into the World Rally Championship lead after winning Rally Mexico for the fourth time in his career.
Petter Solberg narrowly beat Sebastien Ogier to second in a final stage shootout - just a second separating the pair at the finish - while Rally Sweden winner Mikko Hirvonen had to settle for fourth. Kimi Raikkonen's tough rally switch also continued with an incident-packed first day ending in a multiple roll.
Loeb dominated the second half of the event, making the best of his road position on the first day to complete leg one in third, before unleashing astounding speed on Saturday to turn a 27s overnight deficit into a lead of 55s. Loeb then cruised through Sunday's stages at a very leisurely pace to clinch the win.
"Finally a victory and back in the lead of the championship," he said. "It was important after Sweden to win here. It's only the start of the championship but I'm really happy. We had a really good drive yesterday. Now it's looking good."
After winning in Sweden, Hirvonen and Ford had a miserable time in Mexico. The Finn was hampered by running first on the road on Friday, but generally lacked pace all weekend. Only late team orders allowed him to get past team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and up to fourth.
"It was a very difficult weekend for the whole team," Hirvonen admitted. "We never really had the speed. Lot of small mistakes on my side as well. In the end I'm glad we got the points we could and I just want to leave it behind and go on to the next rally."
Citroen number two Dani Sordo was running ahead of the Fords in fourth until a Saturday morning error left him with broken suspension.
Raikkonen's rally went awry early on when he bent a steering arm on the opening stage then stopped for half an hour with a fuel system fault on SS2. He crashed for good five stages later.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h42m41.7s
2. Petter Solberg Citroen + 24.2s
3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 25.3s
4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1m47.5s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 2m15.1s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 2m48.0s
7. Federico Villagra Ford + 10m13.4s
8. Xevi Pons Ford + 18m44.4s
9. Martin Prokop Ford + 19m02.0s
10. Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi + 21m32.5s