Loeb bows out with win in Spain

Loeb bows out with win in Spain

SALOU, Spain - The Associated Press
Loeb bows out with win in Spain

Sebastian Loeb of France drives his Citroen DS 3 WRC during Leg 2 of Rally of Spain near Salou. EPA photo

Nine-time world rally champion Sebastian Loeb of France won the Rally of Spain yesterday, ending his full-time racing career with his 76th victory.

Loeb, driving a Citroen, protected his overnight lead on the third and final day to cap his last championship title in the season’s final event. He plans to limit his appearances on next season’s rally circuit.

Jari-Matti Latvala in a Ford finished runner-up, seven seconds behind. Mikko Hirvonen steered his Citroen into third place.

“For sure I really wanted to win this rally,” said Loeb, who is targeting a partial program of WRC events in 2013 as he revs up for a planned assault on the FIA World Touring Car Championship with Citroen two years from now.

“We were really struggling in the start because it was really tricky on the first day. On the Tarmac I was able to take the lead but today was not easy because we had some strange tyre choice and Jari-Matti was pushing very hard and getting closer.”

Latvala, who will join Volkswagen Motorsport from 2013 following Ford’s decision to end its WRC sponsorship, said “it has been good to fight with Loeb.”

“I have had some fantastic years with Ford and thanks to Malcolm Wilson for being so supportive even though I’ve had many crashes,” he added.