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2012-01-22 15:37

SLIDIN' SOLBERG: Norwegian driver Petter Solberg slides his Ford Fiesta past the crowd on Stage 4 of the 2012 Monte Carlo rally on January 21. He finished third behind Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordi. Image: AFP

Monaco, Monte Carlo - Reigning World champion Sebastien Loeb of France (Citroen) won the Monte Carlo rally for the sixth time on Sunday to take up where he left off in 2012 at the top of the World Rally championship standings.

In what was the opening leg of the 2012 WRC season, Loeb triumphed ahead of Dani Sordi of Spain (Mini) and Petter Solberg of Norway (Ford Fiesta). It was the 68th rally win of his exceptional career; and he has won the previous eight World titles and is hot favourite to make it nine in a row this year.


The race, the 80th Monte Carlo rally, is back in the World Rally Championship fold after three seasons in the rival IRC camp.

Loeb, recently voted the most popular sportsman in France, opened the fourth and final day poised to grab overall victory after leading the classic rally from the start. He made no mistake in winning the closing five-kilometre power stage on the Col de la Madone, high above Monte Carlo, which accorded him three extra points points to take him to 28 points for the race.

"For sure it's always a great moment to start the season like this, especially in front of so many fans," Loeb said. "Full points in the first race is incredible, the perfect start (to his title defence) but Monte Carlo is my rally. For the rest, we will have to see."

Mikko Hirvonen was fourth in this his debut for the works Citroen squad; Evgeny Novikov impressed to take fifth in his M-Sport Fiesta, which equals his best finish in the WRC to date.

The Russian completed his Monte Carlo debut by claiming the final Power Stage point.

Results after Sunday's final five-kilometre “power stage” in the World Rally championship season-opening Monte Carlo Rally:

Overall final results
1 Sébastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-MON/Citroën DS3) 4hr32min39.9
2 Dani Sordo-Carlos Del Barrio (ESP/Mini John Cooper Works) +2min45.5
3 Petter Solberg-Chris Patterson (NOR-GBR/Ford Fiesta RS) +3min14.2
4 Mikko Hirvonen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/Citroën DS3) +4min06.8
5 Evgueni Novikov-Denis Giraudet (RUS-FRA/Ford Fiesta RS) +6min03.4
6 François Delecour-Dominique Savignoni (FRA/Ford Fiesta RS) +7min47.9
7 Pierre Campana-Sabrina de Castelli (FRA/Mini John Cooper Works) +8min31.4
8 Ott Tänak-Kuldar Sikk (EST/Ford Fiesta RS) +10min34.6
9 Martin Prokop-Zdenek Hruza (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) +16min10.7
10 Armindo Araujo-Miguel Ramalho (POR/Mini John Cooper Works) +16min16.6

Stage winners
Loeb 9 (1, 3-7, 9, 10, 18)
P. Solberg 4 (11, 15, 16, 17)
Hirvonen 3 (12 à ES14), Latvala 1 (2)
Sordo 1 (8)

Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS)
Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Citroën DS3)
Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Skoda Fabia S2000)

Drivers’ points standings (after one race)
1 S Loeb (FRA) -28
2 D Sordo (ESP) -18
3 P Solberg (NOR) -15
4 M Hirvonen (FIN) -14
5 E Novikov (RUS) -11
6 F Delecour (FRA) -8
7 P Campana (FRA) -6
8 O Tänak (EST) -4
9 M Prokop (CZE) -2
10 A Araujo (POR) -1

Team overall points
1 Citroën - 37
2 Mini - 24
3 Ford - 15
4 M-Sport (Ford) - 14


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