Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Online scammers exploit MH17 crash

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gaza: online reactions

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rise of the Robots

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza, From Bad to Worse? With no Ceasefire in Sight, Conflict Spillover Felt Elsewhere

Read more

EUROPE NOW

Best of Europe Now (Part 1)

Read more

ENCORE!

Clapton pays hommage to 'Cocaine' songwriter J.J. Cale

Read more

  • US, UK oppose France’s warship sale to Russia

    Read more

  • Israeli soldier missing in Gaza, says media reports

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ suburb of Paris

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • France slams ‘anti-Semitic’ violence at pro-Palestinian rally

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

  • Kristoff wins Tour’s flat Stage 15

    Read more

Loeb edges closer to WRC leader with victory Down Under

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-06

Five-times world champion Sebastien Loeb of France has moved to within one point of the championship leader, Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, following victory in the Australian rally.

AFP - Five-times world champion Sebastien Loeb closed to within one point of championship leader Mikko Hirvonen following victory in Rally Australia in the northern New South Wales region on Sunday.

The French Citroen Total team leader finished the new race 12.5 seconds ahead of Ford Abu Dhabi Team driver Hirvonen of Finland.

Round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship saw Loeb's Spanish teammate Dani Sordo come third, 4.6sec further back after losing out in a desperate battle with Hirvonen that went to the last of the 35 special stages.

It was Loeb's 53rd rally win and his sixth maximum 10-point haul of the season, leaving him within a point of Hirvonen on the championship standings with two rallies left in Spain and Britain.

The Frenchman, linked with a drive for the Red Bull-owned Formula One team Torro Rosso in this year's season finale in Abu Dhabi, is firmly back in contention for a sixth consecutive WRC drivers' title.

Loeb won the opening five rallies of the season, his last success in Argentina in April, but dipped out in his next four events to enable Hirvonen to take over the championship running.

"This one is a good one," said Loeb. "It was a hard fight and because it's been a long time since our last win it feels especially good.

"It was really important for the championship to win here. We've done it and I'm really happy.

"Spain is next and we're one point behind Mikko -- the championship is really interesting this year. It will be an incredible fight to the final."

Loeb won nine of the special stages ahead of Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier with eight, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala's seven and Hirvonen's five.

The final day's victory was a tactical triumph for Loeb, who gambled by relinquishing the lead to Hirvonen on Saturday in exchange for a better road position on Sunday's stages.

With the leading car given the difficult job of clearing the road of gravel for his following rivals, Loeb decided he would have little chance as the first car out.

Instead Hirvonen, who was chasing a fourth consecutive rally win this weekend, had to drive flat out in a bid to overcome his disadvantageous road position.

But he couldn't match Loeb's pace and had to settle for a thrilling battle with Sordo for second place.

"It was a really tough weekend. There have been many rallies this season where we've been absolutely flat out from start to finish and this was one of those," Hirvonen said.

Sordo performed well on the gravel and contributed valuable points for Citroen, which leads the manufacturers' championship, 18 points ahead of Ford.

"I pushed really, really hard to try and keep Mikko behind but it was impossible," Sordo said. "I lost second place but I'm still happy with what we've got."

Fourth place went to Ogier ahead of Latvala, in a Ford Focus.

The next leg of the World Rally Championship takes place in Spain from October 2-4.
 

Date created : 2009-09-06

COMMENT(S)