/ Motorsport

Loeb claims eighth consecutive WRC crown

Updated: Friday, 11 Nov 2011 19:09

Sebastien Loeb - Won an eighth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title to
Sebastien Loeb - Won an eighth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title to

Sebastien Loeb has claimed his eighth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title to become the most successful motorsport driver of all time after closest rival Mikko Hirvonen retired from Wales Rally GB.

Hirvonen was forced to stop after his Ford Fiesta span out of control on stage seven and hit a tree, breaking the radiator and causing the engine to overheat.

The damage to the Finn's car was was deemed to be too severe for him to restart tomorrow under SupeRally rules and his chance of stopping Loeb would have been slim at best due to the 25 minutes of penalties for missing today's remaining stages.

It means the Frenchman has overtaken Formula One's Michael Schumacher and MotoGP's Valentino Rossi, who have both won seven titles, to become the world's most successful motorsport driver.

The newly crowned champion leads the rally at the end of day two, 1.1 seconds ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in the other works Ford.

Loeb started the day with a lead of just under a second but Hirvonen hit back and outpaced the Citroen driver to take a 0.4 second lead before he crashed out.

Finland's Latvala trailed Loeb by nearly 18 secs at the lunch halt but slashed his lead to 1.1 secs at the close after he recorded his third fastest stage time of the day.

Norway's Mads Ostberg is in third place ahead of his fellow countryman Petter Solberg.

Hirvonen voiced his frustration after his spin ended his World championship hopes.

"It was very tricky in the morning and the grip level was changing quite a lot," Hirvonen told www.wrc.com. "On one braking [point] it was very slippery and I was too fast into the next corner.

"There was a big slide and the rear touched the bank. I spun and it pulled the front of the car into a bank where there was a tree stump.

"The wood came through the radiator. There was no real damage but we lost all the water in the engine. We carried on for five-six kilometres but the engine started to overheat."