FIA World Rally Championship

Loeb Clinches Eighth World Rally Title As Hirvonen Won’t Restart

2 Mins read
Sebastien Loeb - Photo Credit: Citroen Racing Media

Sebastien Loeb - Photo Credit: Citroen Racing Media

Sebastien Loeb has secured his eighth consecutive World Rally Championship title after Ford confirmed that Mikko Hirvonen would not be restarting on Wales Rally GB.

The Finn punctured his radiator in a spin on SS7 and was forced to retire from Friday's leg, but there was a chance that he would be able to restart on Saturday morning under Superally rules.

However, his team discovered significant damage to the engine due to the loss of water from the radiator, bringing his season to an end and meaning Loeb cannot be caught.

Meanwhile, the Frenchman leads the rally by just one second over Hirvonen's teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. Loeb had lost the lead to Hirvonen on SS6, prior to the Finn's retirement on the following stage. He had a 17 second margin over Latvala at that point, but Latvala was quicker than Loeb on all four of the afternoon stages, bringing the gap down to just 1.1s with another 12 stages to run over the remaining two days.

Mads Ostberg holds the final podium place in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta, keeping fellow Norwegian Petter Solberg at bay as the privateer Citroen driver recovers from the time lost to a puncture and broken damper on SS7.

Petter's brother Henning Solberg makes it three Norwegians in the top five in fifth place, with Ott Tanak a strong sixth overall on his debut in a World Rally Car – also the first appearance for DMACK tyres on a WRCar.

Kimi Raikkonen, a hot topic some 3560 miles away in Abu Dhabi as rumours about an F1 return gather pace, is just a second behind Tanak in seventh. Kris Meeke is less than five seconds behind him, recovering after an alternator problem in the morning.

Matthew Wilson had been seventh until losing spots to both Raikkonen and Meeke in fog on the final stage of the day. Dennis Kuipers rounds out the top ten, ahead of fellow Fiesta drivers Evgeny Novikov and Ken Block.

Production champion Hayden Paddon is 13th on his debut in an R4-specification Subaru Impreza, ahead of Mini driver Armindo Araujo and Volkswagen Motorsport trialist Kevin Abbring.

Patrik Flodin leads the PWRC section in 16th, while Craig Breen leads the WRC Academy. Unfortunately for the Irishman, points leader Egon Kaur is running second in the class, but with bonus points on offer for each stage win, Breen could yet overhaul the Estonian in the points if he keeps up his pace.

Top ten positions after SS11:

Pos Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Citroen DS3 WRC 1:23:18.3
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1.1
3. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:13.5
4. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +1:21.3
5. Henning Solberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:51.7
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:46.0
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen DS3 WRC +3:47.0
8. Kris Meeke Mini Mini John Cooper Works WRC +3:51.3
9. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:59.4
10. Dennis Kuipers Ferm Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4:23.2
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