03 Aug 08
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb has won the 2008 Rally Finland and with it the 42nd WRC victory of his career.
In an event which is historically dominated by local drivers, Loeb becomes only the fourth non Scandinavian to win the event since it was first run in 1951.
At the finish control a delighted Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena climbed onto the roof of their Citroen C4 WRC and waved a French national flag. “It’s fantastic, an incredible feeling, winning here in Finland means so much to me!” said Loeb. “I desperately wanted to win this rally because it’s been one of the hardest. So getting a win here was more important to me than just getting points. It’s been a very hard battle with Mikko all weekend with no chance to relax. He did a great job - I’ve had to fight for every second.”
A maximum 10 points moves Loeb closer his rival Hirvonen in the 2008 drivers’ championship although he remains in second place, one point adrift of the Finn.
Hirvonen brought his Ford Focus RS over the finish line in second, just 9.9 sec slower than Loeb after 340 kilometres of furious, high speed competition. “I wanted to win here, but it was still fantastic event,” said Hirvonen. “I’m pleased with the speed we had but Seb was able to find few more seconds, and in the end that’s all he needed to win. The championship fight is not over, but of course all the rallies coming up are more important now. It’s not over yet!”
A delighted Chris Atkinson was third in his Subaru Impreza WRC2008 and moved ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala into third place in the drivers’ championship. “It’s the best rally in the world, the one everyone wants to win, so to finish on the podium is really cool!” he said. “You want to come to Finland to go fast but to get a podium is more than we expected. It’s been a great team effort. Stephane [Prevott - co-driver] did a great job and that meant I could do my best.”
Dani Sordo was fourth in the second C4 WRC, giving the Citroen Total team 15 more points in the manufacturers’ contest and moving them up to new total of 105 - just 3 short of series leaders the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. “It’s a shame not to get the podium I wanted, but fourth place and five points is good for Citroen,” said Sordo. “It’s good for my confidence too, and I hope that will help for the next round in Germany - I’ll try hard for a win there.”
Rounding out the top five was Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg. “I’m happy to get some more points but I have some work to do on my performance,” said Solberg. “I had third place here but I wasn’t able to keep it. When I get home I’m going to work on my mental strength; I want to be able to hold on to good positions when I get them in future.”