Loeb strengthens his grip

Frenchman claims victory in historic 500th race

Last Updated: 04/08/12 9:26pm

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Sebastien Loeb: Closing in on a ninth straight WRC title

Sebastien Loeb: Closing in on a ninth straight WRC title

Sky Bet

Sebastien Loeb marked the 500th race in the history of the World Rally Championship with his 73rd win to strengthen his bid for a ninth straight title.

The Frenchman steered his Citroen to victory by the slim margin of 6.1 seconds after team-mate and title rival Mikko Hirvonen won the final two stages, taking the maximum three bonus points on offer for the final power stage.

Loeb was third in that for a 26-point haul in the rally, leaving him 43 clear of the Finn in the season standings on 171.

Hirvonen's compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala was third in his home rally, with Ford colleague Petter Solberg fourth and taking the two bonus points for second place on stage 18.

"For sure it's very satisfying to win in Finland," Loeb told the World Rally Championship's official website.

"I didn't come here especially to win, I came for points because it's very difficult to beat the Finnish drivers. It was a great fight with Mikko, a one-two for Citroen and great for the championship."

Hirvonen responded: "Sebastien was just faster and congratulations to him.

"Second position in Finland makes it even worse but if you do a perfect rally it is not enough against Sebastien. You have to do more because he is incredible."

It was Loeb's third win in Finland, equalling the tally of home favourite Juha Kankkunen.

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