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Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Sunday, 2 December 2007

Loeb lands fourth straight title

Sebastien Loeb celebrates his fourth consecutive world rally title
Loeb has confirmed his status as the dominant rally driver of the era

Frenchman Sebastien Loeb has secured his fourth successive World Rally title after finishing third in the season-ending Wales Rally GB.

The result was enough for the Citroen C4 driver to hold off the challenge of Finland's Marcus Gronholm, who ended up just four points adrift.

Loeb is the third driver to win four world titles, joining Finnish duo Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen.

The rally was won by Mikko Hirvonen in a Ford Focus with Gronholm second.

Gronholm, competing in his last rally before retirement, was 15.2 seconds off Hirvonen's total time of three hours, 22 minutes, 50.9 seconds.

Loeb's victory in Ireland had put him six points clear going into the final rally and he knew that anything more than fifth place would guarantee the title.

606: DEBATE

"It's incredible," he said. "It was really a great championship this year.

"We had a big, big fight with Marcus all the time and to finish with only a four-point lead is really a great moment.

"It was my best battle, I think the nicest championship... I am really happy, four times now and I equalled the record of Tommi. That is great."

Gronholm lost the lead in the standings when he crashed out of last month's Rally Ireland and the Ford driver admitted: "I am disappointed of course but it was a difficult rally, this one, and we lost the title in Ireland.

"Will I come back? No, I've had enough."

His co-driver and brother-in-law Timo Rautiainen added: "It has been a good battle and we have been fast in many rallies.

"It was interesting down to the final rally. It would have been much more of a brilliant and golden finish for the career to end as champions but what can you do? We are not champions."

Hirvonen set the pace in Wales from the start but finished the final stage with his front bumper hanging off after what could have been a costly error.

"We went off and I didn't plan it," said the Finn. "This season has been absolutely fantastic and to finish the season like this is the best preparation for next year.

"I'm happy to be on the podium for the last time with Marcus and Sebastien, it's going to be a special moment."


Wales Rally GB result:
1 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford 3:22:50.900
2 Marcus Groenholm (Fin) Ford +00:15.200
3 Sebastien Loeb (Fr) Citroen +1:33.000
4 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru +2:57.300
5 Daniel Sordo (Sp) Citroen +3:14.300
6. Matthew Wilson (GB) Ford +7:32.900
7 Chris Atkinson (Aus) Subaru +8:29.500
8 Manfred Stohl (Aut) Citroen +8:54.600
9 Xavier Pons (Sp) Subaru +9:48.800
10 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford +10:42.400

Final driver standings:
1 Loeb 116 pts
2 Groenholm 112
3 Hirvonen 99
4 Sordo 65
5 P Solberg 47
6 Henning Solberg (Norway) 34
7 Atkinson 31
8 Latvala 30
9 Stohl 13
10 Francois Duval (Belgium) 12

Final constructor standings
1 BP-Ford WRT 212 pts
2 Citroen Total WRT 183
3 Subaru WRT 87
4 Stobart M-Sport Ford WRT 81
5 OMV-Kronos Citroen 45
6 Munchi's Ford WRT 14




see also
Loeb closes on world rally title
01 Dec 07 |  Rallying
Hirvonen leads in Wales Rally GB
30 Nov 07 |  Rallying
Loeb goes for title at Rally GB
29 Nov 07 |  Rallying
Ireland win puts Loeb in control
18 Nov 07 |  Rallying


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