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Loeb takes out Rally de Portugal

 

Five-time world champion Sebastien Loeb extended his lead in the World Rally Championship (WRC) to 10 points after winning the Rally Portugal on Sunday, his fourth successive victory this season

The Citroen driver leads on 40 points, and is followed by Ford's Mikko Hirvonen on 30. The Finn took the runner-up spot on Sunday, just as he had done in the previous two rallies.

Frenchman Loeb came into the final day in front and held on to the lead, finishing 24.3 seconds ahead of Hirvonen (pictured) and 1.45 minutes ahead of Citroen team mate Dani Sordo.

"It's incredible -- apart from our mistake on Friday's first stage it's been almost a perfect rally," Loeb said.

Hirvonen said he was happy with the eight points but earlier in the day had sensed a chance to win the event.

"I started the day thinking a win was possible but the dust hung in the air and I realised after the opening stage that in those conditions I had no chance of catching Sebastien. I hoped to win here but it wasn't meant to be," he said.

The rally, returning to the series after a year's absence, was the first all-gravel event of the season and was based in the Serra do Caldeirão hills, above the Algarve holiday resort of Faro. 

"It's frustrating to see Loeb on top again but I'm not giving up on the championship title just yet – we are only a third of the way through the season.  I go to every event hoping to win and without him I would do that!  The car was excellent here and I really enjoyed the rally, although it was tough yesterday when I had to clean the road at the front," Hirvonen added.

Round five takes competitors outside of Europe for the first time this season.  Rally Argentina is another gravel event and is based in Carlos Paz on 23 - 26 April.

Final positions
1.  S Loeb/D Elena                      FRA             Citroen C4              3hr 53min 13.1sec
2.  M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen               FIN             Ford Focus RS   3hr 53min 37.4sec
3.  D Sordo/M Marti                     ESP             Citroen C4              3hr 54min 58.5sec
4.  P Solberg/P Mills                   NOR             Citroen Xsara           3hr 55min 57.7sec
5.  H Solberg/C Menkerud                NOR             Ford Focus RS   3hr 58min 59.4sec
6.  M Østberg/O Unnerud         NOR             Subaru Impreza  3hr 59min 33.9sec
7.  F Villagra/J Diaz                   ARG             Ford Focus RS   4hr 06min 12.6sec
8.  K Al Qassimi/M Orr          UAE             Ford Focus RS   4hr 11min 34.8sec
9.  A Araújo/M Ramalho          POR             Mitsubishi Lancer       4hr 15min 31.6sec
10. M Prokop/J Tománek           CZE             Mitsubishi Lancer       4hr 16min 38.7sec

Drivers                                                
1.  S Loeb                        40pts                
2.  M Hirvonen                  30pts                
3.  D Sordo                       23pts                
4.  P Solberg                    14pts                
5.  H Solberg                    14pts                
6.  M Wilson                       8pts       

Manufacturers  
1.  Citroen Total                      64pts
2.  BP Ford Abu Dhabi           40pts
3.  Stobart VK M-Sport Ford  27pts
4.  Citroen Junior                    11pts       
5.  Munchi's Ford                     7pts


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