Wheels24

Flawless Loeb wins Acropolis

2012-05-27 19:09

ATHENS, Greece - Sebastien Loeb produced a faultless display on the final day of the Acropolis Rally of Greece to win the event for the third time after main rival Petter Solberg crashed out.

The French World champion began the day in his Citroen DS3 WRC with a 10.2sec advantage over Solberg but after his Norwegian rival crashed on the opening test of Sunday's five stages Loeb finished 40sec ahead of team mate Mikko Hirvonen with an overall time of 4hr42:03.3 over the four days.

FOUR OUT OF SIX

The victory came despite a late scare when Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena had to stop to change a wheel on stage 20.

It was Loeb's fourth victory in six rallies in this season's championship and, by claiming three bonus points for winning the event-closing Power Stage, he increased his lead over Finland's Hirvonen in the overall standings to 30 points.

"This rally was so long and difficult," Loeb said after his 71st career rally triumph. "We had some fortune in the morning, but in general we had to fight really hard. It was really good. I tried to always keep my rhythm and do what I felt."

Solberg's misfortune - he tore a rear wheel off his car by hitting a tree - allowed Hirvonen to move into second spot with Jari-Matti Latvala securing the final podium place in third, the Finn marking his return from a broken collarbone in style by claiming 10 fastest stage times.

"I am happy with the result. After Friday I didn't have so much to do except just try not to make mistakes and bring the car back safely," said Hirvonen. “It's a very good result for the team, they have done a fantastic job with the car. I believe I can be faster than this."

Provisional Acropolis Rally result on Sunday
 1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 4hr42min03.3
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +00min40.0
3 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford +03min04.8
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford +06min16.4
5 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford +07min46.5
6 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen +09min41.4
7 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda +12min59.9
8 Yazeed Al Rajhi (Saudi Arabia) Ford +20min12.2
9 Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford +23min18.9
10 Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (Qatar) Mini +28min40.5

Provisional Drivers’ standings
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) 116
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) 88
3 Mads Ostberg (Norway) 80
4 Petter Solberg (Norway) 73
5 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) 43
5 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) 43
7 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) 36
8 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) 23
9 Sebastien Ogier (France) 22
9 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) 22
11 Daniel Sordo (Spain) 21

Reuters