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   Sunday, 25 August, 2002, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Loeb clinches maiden win
Loeb (right) celebrates with co-driver Daniel Elelena
Loeb (right) celebrates with co-driver Daniel Elelena

Frenchman Sebastien Loeb secured the first world championship win of his career with victory in the Rally of Germany on Sunday.

The Citroen driver, who had a January triumph in Monaco wiped out following an error by his team, had an anxious wait after a rules infringement during Saturday's final stage threatened to wipe out his victory.

There was a threat that Loeb's error in overshooting a junction would bring a protest.

We were 100% on the limit today because a win was still possible

Richard Burns

But none was filed and Loeb is free to celebrate.

Loeb finished the rally 14.3 seconds ahead of world champion Richard Burns in his Peugeot.

Championship leader Marcus Gronholm was over a minute back in third place, with Colin McRae fourth, nearly three minutes back.

Losing the victory would be a tough pill to swallow for Loeb, who has led since the end of the second stage on the opening day.

He thought he had claimed his maiden victory in Monaco in January only for a technical infringement on his car to deny him glory.

When asked what might happen this time, Loeb admitted: "I don't know."

We eased off because there was no point in pushing hard

Colin McRae

Burns, himself waiting to see if he will take maximum points, said he and his Peugeot team were playing a sensible game.

"We were 100% on the limit today because a win was still possible," Burns said.

"We were not going to stop trying, but there was no point taking unnecessary risks."

McRae also opted for safety rather than trying to catch Gronholm.

"I just wanted to keep fourth place," McRae said.

"We were under no pressure and we eased off because there was no point in pushing hard. We were just concentrating on finishing."

Belgian privateer Bruno Thiry, driving a Peugeot, held on for an impressive fifth place, while Ford's Markko Martin held off Tommi Makinen for sixth.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was eighth for Ford, having lost two minutes when he stalled his car at the start of the day.

Mitsubishi's Frenchman Francois Delecour picked up the final manufacturers' point after finishing ninth.


Final standings (subject to stewards meeting):

1. Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 3 hours 47 minutes 17.3 seconds
2. Richard Burns (Britain) Peugeot +14.3 seconds
3. Marcus Gronholm (Finland) Peugeot + 1:19.1
4. Colin McRae (Britain) Ford + 3:45.3
5. Bruno Thiry (Belgium) Peugeot + 5:18.8
6. Markko Martin (Estonia) Ford + 5:33.0
7. Tommi Makinen (Finland) Subaru + 5:39.2
8. Carlos Sainz (Spain) Ford + 6:17.0
9. Francois Delecour (France) Mitsubishi + 6:35.9
10. Kenneth Eriksson (Sweden) Skoda + 13:34.2

Leading championship standings:

1. M. Gronholm (Fin) 51 points
2. C. McRae (Gbr) 33 pts
3. R. Burns (Gbr) 31 pts
4. C. Sainz (Spa) 26 pts
5. G. Panizzi (Fra) 21 pts
6. P. Solberg (Nor) 19 pts
7. S. Loeb (Fra) 18 pts
7. H. Rovanpera (Fin) 18 pts
9. T. Makinen (Fin) 15 pts
10. M. Martin (Est) 10 pts

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Sport's Greg Strange
"Loeb will be one to watch next year"
 Citroen's Sebastien Loeb
"I had to push hard for the win"
 Citroen team boss Guy Frequelin
"I'm happy for the team and Sebastien"
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