Loeb scores 70th WRC win
70th WIN FOR LOEB: ARGENTINA, CARLOS PAZ : Sebastien Loeb (right) and co-driver Daniel Elena celebrate their victory in the World Rally championship Rally Argentina 2012 on the podium in Villa Carlos Paz, Cordoba. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
CORDOBA, Argentina - Citroen's Sebastien Loeb chalked up the 70th victory of his World Rally championship career on
Sunday by winning Rally Argentina for the seventh year in a row.
Victory was entirely predictable for the eight-times champion after Citroen ordered his Finnish team mate Mikko Hirvonen to hold position and not challenge the Frenchman for first place.
With no contest between the front two, and a huge gap between them and the next car on the gravel roads near Cordoba, championship leader Loeb saved his tyres and cruised to his third win of the season 15.2sec ahead of Hirvonen.
"Another victory here in Argentina - it's incredible for me and especially after Portugal it was important for the team to react like this," said Loeb, who had started the event four points clear of Norway's Petter Solberg and 16 ahead of Hirvonen.
"It has been a great rally here with Mikko finishing second."
Norway's Mads Ostberg, winner of the previous race in Portugal after Loeb crashed and Hirvonen was then disqualified on post-race checks after being hailed as the winner, took third place in a Ford.
He was given the place after Spanish stand-in Dani Sordo, replacing Finland's injured Jari-Matti Latvala at the works Ford team, had mechanical problems and retired with the podium in sight.
Martin Prokop of the Czech Republic was fourth, also in a Ford, with Belgian Thierry Neuville fifth in a Citroen ahead of Solberg for Ford.
Solberg took three bonus points, however, for winning the final 4.15km "power stage" and extended Ford's run of scoring finishes to 150 rallies.
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier was seventh (Skoda) with Russian Evgeny Novikov eighth (Ford), Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah (Citroen) ninth and Estonian Ott Tanak (Ford) collecting a point for 10th.
Five of the top-10 finishers had rejoined the rally with time penalties after earlier retirements.
Former Formula One racer Eliseo Salazar of Chile, now 57, finished 12th in a prodrive Mini on his world rally championship debut.
Result of the 2012 Rally of Argentina
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 5hr34min38.8
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +15.2sec
3 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford +3min10.4
4 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford +9min45.3
5 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen +11min17.6
6 Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford +12min02.2
7 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda +12min25.
8 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford +21min10.20
9 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Citroen +28min22.6
10 Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford +37min19.5
Drivers’ and Constructors’ points after the 2012 Rally of Argentina
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen - 91
2 Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford - 73
3 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen - 70
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Mads Ostberg - 68
5 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford - 43
6 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford - 28
7 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford - 26
8 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Qatar Team - 23
9 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Mini - 21
10 Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford World - 16
11 Sebastien Ogier (France) VW- 16
1 Citroen Total - 151
2 Ford - 106
3 M-Sport Ford - 81
4 Qatar World Rally Team - 37
5 Citroen Junior Team - 30
6 Adapta Team - 27
7 Mini WRC Team - 26
8 Brazil Rally Team - 10