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  Sunday, 20 January, 2002, 17:01 GMT
Loeb claims rightful victory
Sebastian Loeb on his way to a provisional win in the Monte Carlo Rally
Loeb led convincingly through the event
Click here for full results and world championship standings

Sebastien Loeb has claimed that he is the deserving winner of the Monte Carlo Rally - whatever happens in the appeal in which his victory could be taken away.

The Frenchman turned the rally formbook on its head with his first world championship victory - but was penalised two minutes for illegally changing a tyre after Saturday's stages.

He will be demoted to second behind Subaru's Tommi Makinen if his appeal - which takes place on 29 January - against the penalty is turned down.

That would make four-time world champion Makinen the first man to win four consecutive Monte Carlo rallies - and the most successful rally driver of all time, with 24 wins.


There was no intention to cheat from Citroen, but on the other hand there are rules
Corrado Provera
Peugeot team boss

Whatever happens, Loeb has established himself as a star of the future by winning on only his second world championship event.

Loeb beat Makinen by 45.6 seconds, and was just over two minutes clear of Ford's Carlos Sainz in third place.

Loeb said: "As far as I am concerned I have won the race because I am ahead on the course.

"Tommi and I battled it out on the roads. After that, everything is a political decision.

"This is the most important day of my life. For a Frenchman to win his first rally in Monte Carlo is a dream.  But it took hard work .

"We have a very good car and good tyres. We will have to remain concentrated and hope to be in the same sort of form when we get to the next race in Sweden."

Tommi Makinen
Makinen was again strong on an event he has won three times

Sainz's team-mate Colin McRae was fourth, with Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm fifth and Subaru's Petter Solberg sixth.

World champion Richard Burns was eighth on his Peugeot debut behind team-mate Gilles Panizzi, while Alister McRae was 14th on his first drive for Mitsubishi.

He said: "This was not a fantastic result but I cannot say I am unhappy. This isn't a disaster, it would have been a disaster if I'd gone out on the first day.

"I have learned a hell of a lot about the car on this rally."

Loeb's Citroen team, who are competing in only seven events this season, illegally changed the tyres on his Xsara WRC in Saturday's final service park.

Teams were not permitted to change tyres until the first service on Sunday morning.

Citroen have appealed against the penalty on the grounds that they gained no advantage because the car was taken straight to the secure "parc ferme".

Richard Burns was eighth on his first event for Peugeot
Burns admitted to struggling with the Peugeot
"We do not wish to make any declaration on what is a terrible oversight," team manager Michel Perin.

"It is all the more stupid that it amounts to changing tyres."

Rival team boss Corrado Provera of Peugeot said: "This is simply called a screw-up with a capital S.

"It can happen to anybody. There was no intention to cheat from Citroen, but on the other hand there are rules."


Provisional leading positions after end of Monte Carlo Rally:

1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen three hours, 58 minutes and 44.8 seconds*
2 Tommi Makinen (Fin) Subaru + 45.9 seconds
3 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Ford + 2:01.6
4 Colin McRae (Britain) Ford + 2:43.9
5 Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Peugeot + 2:53.3
6 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru + 3:15.5
7 Gilles Panizzi (Fra) Peugeot + 4:08.0
8 Richard Burns (GB) Peugeot + 5:02.3
9 Francois Delecour (Fra) Mitsubishi + 6:21.8
10 Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Skoda + 7:28.3

* Citroen have appealed against a two-minute penalty for illegally changing tyres

Provisional standings after the Monte Carlo Rally, round one of the World Rally Championship:

Drivers' championship:
1 Loeb 10 points 2 Makinen 6 3 Sainz 4 4 McRae 3 5 Gronholm 2 6 Solberg 1

Manufacturers' championship:
1 Subaru 12 points
2 Ford 10
3 Peugeot 4

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Greg Strange
"There's enormous sympathy for Tommi Makinen"
Finland's Tommi Makinen
"I didn't push hard because we were leading"
France's Sebastien Loeb
"I'm very happy"
World Rally Championship
This year's rallies:

TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS

 
 
See also:

19 Jan 02 |  Photo Galleries
Loeb leads in Monte Carlo
19 Jan 02 |  World Rally
McRae suffers setback
20 Jan 02 |  Photo Galleries
Row mars Loeb victory
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