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2012-01-17 08:29

RALLY CHAMPION: With the return of the Monte Carlo rally in 2012, veteran driver Sebastien Loeb could be on the hunt for his ninth WRC title.


It's official - with eight consecutive FIA World Rally Drivers’ titles to his name, Sébastien Loeb is the most titled racing driver ever. Here's a snapshot of his innings (so far...) Read the story

Daniel Ortelli

MONACO - Sebastien Loeb will be aiming for an unprecedented ninth World Rally championship title when the 2012 season kicks off with the return of the Monte Carlo Rally.

After three years on the Intercontinental Rally Challenge circuit, the Monte is back in the WRC and set to provide a spectacle with seven World champions and five former winners of the race in the field.


Loeb heads the line-up in his Citroen DS3 and is the overwhelming favourite for the season's curtain-raiser with five victories in seven attempts in the Mediterranean principality and the Frenchman was delighted to see the event return to the WRC.

Loeb said: "It's a no-brainer - the Monte Carlo has to be in the World championship. It is the world's most famous rally; you just can't have a World championship without it!"

"It's also a rally where I have always done well."

New Citroen recruit Mikko Hirvonen, winner of the 2010 edition when it was part of the IRC circuit, admitted the unpredictable winter conditions that are a staple of the opening rally makes it one of the toughest on the calendar.

"Monte Carlo has such a long tradition and the championship has to start from Monte Carlo but I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the rally. I love it when I’m not there but when you’re up in the mountains with the wrong tyres doing icy downhills on slicks then I hate it. But it’s a real challenge and I’m very happy to start the season over there and really excited to be in the Citroen."

The course includes 430km of timed sections over 18 stages with drivers departing from Valence and passing through the Ardeche, Haute-Loire, Vercors and Alpes-Maritimes regions before reaching Monaco.


The future of the sport was thrown into disarray when the International Automobile Federation (FIA) cancelled its contract with promoters North One Sport earlier this month but the Monaco Automobile Club confirmed that Eurosport had agreed to step in and provide coverage for the season-opening event.

The 13-race season will end with the Rally of Spain on November 11, 2012.


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