WRC – Sebastian Loeb, 8th Straight World Championship!!!

November 12, 2011

WRC

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WALES RALLY GB – 9-13/11/2011 – DAY 2
11/11/11 brings good luck to Loeb and Elena!

The number 11 brought good luck to Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. At 11h11 on the dot, the crew of the no. 1 Citroën DS3 WRC retook first place after their rivals for the title threw in the towel. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew is assured of winning their eighth consecutive world title*, and they now want to finish the season with a flourish and close this weekend with a victory!

After leaving Llandudno at 5h30 this morning the crews began the day with a 100-km liaison section bringing them to the start of SS4. They were joined by Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia whose DS3 WRC had been repaired in the service park in Builth Wells yesterday evening.

In the Gartheiniog Forest, Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen went at it hammer and tongs straight away continuing the duel begun in the previous evening’s three stages. Loeb was quickest in SS4, the first stage of the day, and pulled out a small gap over his Finnish rival, but Hirvonen hit back in the Dyfi stage and took the lead at the end of SS6 by just 4/10s. The battle ended in the next stage when Mikko lost four minutes.

Shortly afterwards he retired from the stage.

Sébastien Loeb heard the news when he got back to the Builth Wells service park, and he acknowledged that the odds had turned in his favour: “It was pretty tough this morning. I’ve rarely scared myself so often in half-a-day! There were some sections where the grip was so low that I had big problems keeping the car on the road. Mikko was going like a bat out of hell and we were scrapping for every tenth of a second. In SS7, I started flat out as I wanted to get back in front. There was fog and the grip suited me a lot better. Mikko made a mistake and the situation has turned in our favour. If his retirement is confirmed it means that we’re world champions, and we can take it easy. But if he restarts in the Super Rally we’ll have to make all the right calculations before shouting victory. For the time being, though, we still have to remain concentrated and stay on the road.”

Sébastien Ogier, who rejoined in the Super Rally, found it difficult to recapture his motivation: “It’s always difficult to recover your motivation when there’s nothing left to fight for. The car wasn’t badly damaged and it didn’t take the mechanics long to repair it yesterday evening. Still it’s nice to be able to run in these new stages in the rally. It could be useful for the future.”

There were no further upsets in the afternoon. Loeb adopted a cautious rhythm. As the stages unfolded his lead in the general classification shrunk, and he finished the leg only 1.1s in front of Jari-Matti Latvala.

“The day began with an incredible duel between Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen,” summed up Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal: “Yet again Sébastien was the strongest. We’ve just had confirmation that Mikko Hirvonen has definitely retired and we can now say that Sébastien and Daniel are the 2011 World Champions! We’ll have a small party this evening to mark this performance, and then we’ll really celebrate it at the end of the rally.”

“Obviously, I’m much more relaxed now, but we’ve still got two days racing to go. Even if I lost time this afternoon as I was awaiting confirmation of Mikko’s retirement, I’m still leading the rally and I said to myself that it would be good to end the season with a victory,” smiled Sébastien Loeb. “If I feel good in tomorrow’s stages I’m going to try and score my fourth consecutive win in this rally!”

* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA.

Fastest stage times

Day 1 – SS1: Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta) – SS2: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3) – SS3: Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta).
Day 2 – SS4: Loeb – SS5 and 6 : Hirvonen – SS7: Loeb – SS8: Latvala – SS9: Kris Meeke (Mini JCW) – SS10 and 11: Latvala.
Best performers: Latvala, 4 fastest times – Hirvonen and Loeb, 3 – Meeke, 1.
Leaders: SS1 and 2: Latvala – SS3 to 5: Loeb – SS6: Hirvonen – SS7 to 11: Loeb.

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