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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 18:27 GMT
Loeb wins in Monte Carlo
Sebastien Loeb
Loeb was a master of the trickey roads above Monte Carlo
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb led home a Citroen one-two-three as he claimed his first win at the Monte Carlo Rally.

Loeb beat Briton Colin McRae by 38.1 seconds, while team-mate Carlos Sainz edged out Markko Martin for third place.

Britain's Richard Burns was fifth for champions Peugeot, who have never won the season opener, despite taking the manufacturers' title for the last three years.

It was 28-year-old Loeb's second career win, following his debut triumph in Germany last year when Citroen competed in a limited number of events.

"I concentrated hard right till the last few metres of the last special because you never know what might happen," he said.

"I thought it was a trap to have such a good lead going into the final special," he added.

The win was all the sweeter after disappointment in the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally when an illegal wheel change deprived the Frenchman of victory.

McRae struggled with a mechanical problem on the second stage of the final day but held on for an impressive finish on his Citroen debut.

The 34-year-old made a good start to the day, winning the 19.5-mile test up the famous Col du Turini in the French Alps.

And McRae was later able to have a mechanical problem fixed in the service park without losing his place.

The final 19.52 km Lantosque stage was harsh on Martin, who had suffered an upset stomach for much of Saturday.

He moved ahead of Sainz on Sunday morning with a storming 12th stage.

Sainz, who had been slowed by brake problems, roared back with the fastest time on stage 13 and reclaimed his podium place at the finish.

World champion Marcus Gronholm, the rally leader until he wrecked his chances on a rock on the second leg, finished 13th overall for Peugeot.

But he still managed to pick up an important point for the manufacturers' championship.

BBC Sport's Greg Strange
"Loeb is the first home winner for twenty years"




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