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2012-11-11 18:38

FINE FAREWELL: Sebastien Loeb (right) and co-driver Daniel Elena celebrate on the podium after winning the 2012 Rally of Catalonia in Spain. It was Loeb's last full-time WRC drive. Image: AFP

Iain Rogers

MADRID, Spain - Nine-times World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb ended the 2012 season with a ninth victory when he won the Rally of Spain for the eighth time in his career on Sunday.

It was his final outing as a full-time driver.

The French Citroen driver, who will not race in all of the 2013 season's rallies, and will take part in the World Touring Car championship from 2014, finished seven seconds ahead of Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala with Loeb's team mate Mikko Hirvonen 1min39.8 further back in third.

'REALLY WANTED WIN'

Loeb had already clinched a ninth consecutive title at the 2012 Rally of France in October.

"For sure I really wanted to win this rally," Loeb said on the World Rally championship after three days of rain-affected action. "We were really struggling at the start because it was really tricky on the first day.

He was referring to the mainly gravel early sections of the race in the Tarragona region of eastern Spain.

"On the tarmac I was able to take the lead but Sunday was not easy because we had some strange tyre choice and Jari-Matti was pushing very hard and getting closer."

Loeb, 38, always said he wanted to quit rallying at his peak and Finn Hirvonen will become Citroen's main driver in 2013 when the season starts in Monte Carlo on January 15.

Loeb's victory in Spain was the 76th of his career.

Result from the 2012 Rally of Spain on Nov 11, 2013
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 4hr14min29.1
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford +00min07.0
3 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +01min46.8
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford +01min56.4
5 Jarkko Nikara (Finland) Mini +16min07.9
6 Craig Breen (Ireland) Ford +18min10.4
7 Chris Atkinson (Australia) Mini +19min14.7
8 Per-Gunnar Andersson (Sweden) Proton +20min16.1
9 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Mini +25min40.6
10 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford +25min46.6
 

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