Loeb starts new season with victory
MONACO - Agence France-Presse
AFP photoReigning world champion Sebastien Loeb of France in a Citroen won the Monte Carlo rally for the sixth time yesterday to take up where he left off last season atop the World Rally Championship standings (WRC).
In what was the opening leg of the 2012 WRC season, Loeb triumphed ahead of Dani Sordi of Spain (Mini) and Petter Solberg of Norway (Ford Fiesta). It was the 68th rally win of his exceptional career.
The race, the 80th running of the Monte Carlo Rally, marked its return to the WRC stage after three seasons in the rival IRC camp. Loeb has won the last eight rally world titles and is a hot favorite to make it nine in a row this year.
Recently voted as the most popular French sportsman, Loeb, who hails from Alsace, opened the final day poised to grab overall victory having led the classic rally race from the start. “For sure it’s always a great moment to start the season like this especially in front of so many fans,” Loeb said after the race.
Mikko Hirvonen marked his debut for the works Citroen squad in fourth with Evgeny Novikov impressing throughout to take fifth in his M-Sport Fiesta, which equals his best finish in the WRC to date.