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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Loeb claims maiden world title
Sebastien Loeb
Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb became the new world rally champion on Sunday after finishing second behind Markko Martin in the Rally of Corsica.

The Frenchman just needed to finish fourth or better to claim the title, and did so comfortably.

Ford's Markko Martin won the rally after Francois Duval's retirement with mechanical problems eliminated his only serious challenger.

Citroen clinched the constructors crown for the second season in succession.

To be crowned in France with a French team - there is nothing better
World champion Sebastien Loeb

Carlos Sainz finished third in Corsica behind team-mate Loeb, with former champion Marcus Gronholm in a Peugeot taking fourth spot and outgoing world champion Petter Solberg, in a Subaru, in fifth.

Solberg had made a late bid to retain his crown, winning the previous three rallies, but Loeb's five victories - in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Cyprus, Turkey and Germany - helped him claim his first world title.

Loeb took the final day cautiously in Corsica and he was helped when Belgium's Duval, who was second overnight in a Ford Focus, pulled out after five miles with engine failure.

Rally of Corsica result:
1. Markko Martin (Est) Ford Focus WRC 4hr 11min 51.4sec
2. Sebastien Loeb (Fra) CitroŽn Xsara WRC at 2:02.2
3. Carlos Sainz (Spa) CitroŽn Xsara WRC at 2:55.3
4. Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Peugeot 307 WRC 3:29.1
5. Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru Impreza WRC 5:06.3
6. Stťphane Sarrazin (Fra) Subaru Impreza WRC 7:09.1
7. Freddy Loix (Bel) Peugeot 307 WRC 8:21.2
8. Armin Schwarz (Ger) Skoda Fabia WRC 9:08.3
9. Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Skoda Fabia WRC 9:35.3
10. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Subaru Impreza WRC 11:58.2

Championship standings:
1. Sebastien Loeb (Fra) 108pts (world champion)
2. Petter Solberg (Nor) 78
3. Markko Martin (Est) 69
4. Carlos Sainz (Spa) 65
5. Marcus GrŲnholm (Fin) 54
6. Francois Duval (Bel) 47
7. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) 23
8. Harri Rovanpera (Fin) 20
9. Janne Tuohino (Fin) 16
10. Freddy Loix (BEL) 9

Constructors standings:
1. Citroen 178pts (world champions)
2. Ford 127
3. Subaru 108
4. Peugeot 85




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