03 Aug 08
Sebastien Loeb says the fact that he held the lead of Rally Finland from beginning to end makes his first ever win on the event especially sweet.
The defending world champion got the second half of his WRC season off to a perfect start with a maximum points haul this weekend, and the Frenchman remains firmly in contention for a record-breaking fifth drivers’ championship title in 2008.
Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo claimed fourth overall in the second Citroen Total C4 WRC and enabled Citroen to move closer to Ford in the manufacturers’ battle.
"I'm thrilled to have won this rally," beamed Sebastien Loeb after the finish podium in Jyvaskyla. "And I'm especially pleased with the way we won it. From start to finish, the scrap reminded me of the clashes we had last year with Marcus Gronholm. It was a very close run thing throughout and we were never able to relax. The decision to keep the lead at the end of the opening day involved a certain amount of risk because we didn't know exactly how much road-sweeping we would have to do. It meant pushing hard all the way, but the tactic finally paid off.
"Our objective today was to keep up a fast pace over the final day's stages and keep a close eye on how our main rival was going," continued the four-time World Champion. "It was important not to make any mistakes and that meant building in a certain safety margin. After spending the first two days driving flat out between the trees, I had absolutely no intention of letting our 42nd WRC win slip from our grasp.
Today's victory also means we have met one of the objectives we set ourselves at the start of the season and that's a particularly satisfying feeling. I had every confidence in my Citroën C4 from flag to flag and this result gives our chances in the Drivers' championship a terrific boost since it narrows the gap down to just three points. It's been a positive weekend, too, for Citroën in the Manufacturers' standings."
"When you know just how tough it is to win this event, today's result is immensely satisfying," concluded Citroen Total team principal Olivier Quesnel. "Sebastien and Daniel didn't put a foot wrong and they came out on top at the end of what was an unrelenting fight. The tremendous work put in by everyone in the technical team on the C4 since last year has paid dividends. It was awesomely competitive and this is a top result for us in terms of the Manufacturers' Championship, too. The way both C4s performed is particularly encouraging for the rest of the season. Dani and Marc also put in a very mature run. A magnificent victory, some outstanding times, clockwork reliability and a big points haul... what else could we ask for?"