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Loeb wins Rally of Turkey


Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has won the Rally of Turkey -- his third victory in a row

After heavy overnight rain forced the day's opening two stages to be cancelled, the Frenchman finished 54.5 seconds ahead of Norwegian Petter Solberg in a privately-entered Citroen.

Ford's Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen was third, after hitting a rock and picking up a rear tyre puncture on the last day, to deny Citroen a podium sweep.

Citroen's Dani Sordo, who had been third, crashed out and junior team driver Sebastien Ogier was fourth for the French manufacturer.

Former Ferrari Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth for his second successive points finish and best result since he switched from grand prix racing at the end of last season.

Loeb, chasing his seventh title in a row, took his record career tally of wins to 57 and extended his championship lead to 40 points.

The Citroen driver has 93, Solberg 53 and Hirvonen 52.

Loeb was quickest through the day's opening Ballica stage, returning to service on the Asian side of Istanbul with a smile on his face after his car flew some 85 metres through the air off one of the jumps.

"It was an incredible sensation as we were up in the air for several seconds," he said. "Not for a moment did we imagine that we would jump so far. We gave ourselves a few more scares but I had to keep on pushing."

After the shenanigans of the previous rally in Jordan, where teams played tactics to ensure the leading drivers would not be acting as roadsweepers by running first, Loeb led from the front and took the rewards.

"This victory gives me a lot of pleasure," he said. "The route was a real challenge with some very quick sections and others in which you had to nurse the car.

The Rally of Turkey is the fourth event of the FIA World Rally Championship. Turkey returned to the WRC calendar after a year's absence.

The fifth round will be held in New Zealand next month.

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