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Monday 23rd January 2012


MONTE CARLO WIN FOR LOEB

There have been some behind the scenes upsets in WRC but it's business as usual on the podium


After its winter of discontent, the World Rally Championship breathed a sigh of relief as it leapt back into action on the stages of the 2012 Rallye Monte Carlo. The shock collapse of the series' promoter, North One Sport, was perfectly offset by the predictability of the result: eight-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb collected his sixth career Monte Carlo victory.

Latvala lost his early lead after a crash
Latvala lost his early lead after a crash
The early stages of the rally fooled us all into believing that the ever dominant Frenchman mightn't have it all his own way, however. The perennially promising Jari-Matti Latvala raised a few eyebrows by leading the event in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC by no fewer than 30 seconds after three stages. An icy corner, a missed pacenote and a six-foot wall put the Finn out of the lead and, with no restarts permitted, out of the rally.

So Loeb inherited the number one position, eventually finishing 2min 45.5secs ahead of Mini World Rally Team lead driver Dani Sordo, with three extra bonus points to his name having also won the Power Stage.

"I am happy to win a rally that means a lot to me," said Loeb. "It's a big gap to second, but I wouldn't say that this was an easy win. We had to deal with all sorts of conditions and my lead was largely built on better tyre choices."

If Loeb's victory was foreseen by all and Latvala's exit frustrating, the final standings were littered with reasons to smile; Sordo's third podium for Mini in seven rallies, Petter Solberg's third position for the Ford World Rally Team on his return to a factory squad, Mikko Hirvonen's trio of fastest stage times following his defection to Citroen and, perhaps above all, 49-year-old WRC-returnee Francois Delecour showing a host of next generation rally winners how it's done by finishing a fine sixth overall.


For more Monte Carlo analysis check back later on today as PH rides shotgun with Citroen's new team boss

Hirvonen gets to grips with his Citroen
Hirvonen gets to grips with his Citroen
Nobody could get near Loeb's pace
Nobody could get near Loeb's pace
Solberg took third place for Ford
Solberg took third place for Ford
Sixth Monte win for eight-time champ Loeb
Sixth Monte win for eight-time champ Loeb
Author: Dan Prosser
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