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Loeb treads closer to 9th win

2012-10-04 07:49

PARIS, France - Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, forced to retire from his home race in 2011, could secure a record ninth World Rallying title on Sunday (Oct 7) if he does no more than finish the Rally of France-Alsace.

Loeb has a 61-point lead over Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen of Finland with only three races remaining. Despite this season's success, Loeb won't race for the 2013 title, instead he will take part in a partial racing programme that year.

REVENGE IS SWEET

Loeb, who has won seven of the 10 rallies of 2012, said: "Like the fans who turned out to support me, I was disappointed to retire in 2011, but that kind of thing is also part-and-parcel of racing.

"I feel there is some sort of revenge to take - we can secure both titles."

Victory on Sunday would also give Citroen the Manufacturers' title at the end of the race that starts today in Strasbourg. The automaker is leading Ford by 111 points.

It will all happen very fast, according to Loeb. "The stages are among the quickest we have ever completed. The constant changes in road surface make the tarmac difficult to read and the work of the gravel crews is essential given that the road can become very dirty between the two runs."

MANUFACTURERS' TITLE


Hirvonen has already conceded defeat and now has the Manufacturers' title primarily in mind. "To be honest," he said, "I'm not thinking about the Drivers' title at all.

"Sebastien has been as strong as ever through 2012 and has such a big lead that I don't see how I can beat him in normal racing conditions. My goal is to continue to improve and score the points needed by Citroen to win the Manufacturers' World championship."

Ford boss Malcolm Wilson said he was running out of words to describe how good Loeb was "but I don't want him to stop because it's always been my target to beat him".

"He's stopped (our team) winning probably eight titles so I want to beat him while he's still competing."

Reuters