Part-time Loeb wins Monte Carlo
FANS FORCE MONTE SHUT-DOWN: French driver Sebastien Loeb in his Citroen DS3 during Stage 15 of the 2013 Monte Carlo rally - the first of the season - whiche was shut down because there were too many spectators for safety. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
MONACO - Semi-retired rally driver Sebastien Loeb won the Monte Carlo Rally for the seventh time on Saturday.
The final part of the race was, however, cancelled because too many spectators turned up for the last two stages.
The World Rally championship website reported: "The organisers stopped the event early on safety grounds when huge numbers of spectators forced the cancellation of the final two stages."
'ALWAYS HAPPY WHEN I WIN'
The results at the end of Stage 16 became the final classification with nine times World champion Loeb taking his 77th WRC victory. He's elected to be a "part-time" rally driver for 2013 and instead focus on sports-car racing.
Although Loeb is not challenging for a 10th title in a row he has made it clear that he still wants to win the four rounds of the 13-event championship in which he will drive.
He said after the event: "I'm always happy when I win and Monte Carlo is one of the most exciting rallies I've done. This one was really, really difficult. The conditions were extreme and winning wasn't easy."
He'd led the event since Wednesday.
Snow and ice in the mountains around Valence and north of Monaco created challenging conditions, even with studded tyres over the infamous Col de Turini, but Loeb never faced a serious challenge.
His compatriot Sebastien Ogier, second on his debut for championship newcomer Volkswagen, could see the bigger picture and was content to settle for a safe second place knowing that Loeb was not a championship rival.
POLO ON THE PACE
"I'm so happy, it's like a victory for me," he said after finishing 1min39.9 behind Loeb. "I'm a competitor and I've never been happy to finish second but this weekend it was really the target and to start the season like this is amazing.
"I've been waiting for a year, I've done so many tests and it was frustrating sometimes, and now here we are with the VW Polo on the pace already."
Spain's Dani Sordo was third for Citroen after a battle with Russian Evgeny Novikov whose hopes disappeared when he hit a mountain wall and lost the rear left wheel of his Ford.
Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen was fourth.
The second round of the 2013 championship will be in Sweden in February.
Drivers' and Constructors' standings after the 2013 Rally of Monaco
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen Total Abu Dhabi - 25
2 Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen Motorsport - 18
3 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Abu Dhabi Citroen Total - 15
4 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen Total Abu Dhabi - 12
5 Bryan Bouffier (France) Bryan Bouffier - 10
6 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Qatar M-Sport - 8
7 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Jipocar Czech National Team - 6
8 Sepp Wiegand (Germany) Skoda Auto Deutschland - 4
9 Olivier Burri (Switzerland) Olivier Burri - 2
10 Michal Kosciuszko (Poland) Qatar World Rally Team - 1
1 Citroen Total Abu Dhabi - 37
2 Volkswagen Motorsport - 18
3 Abu Dhabi Citroen Total - 15
4 Qatar World Rally Team - 10
5 Lotos Team - 8