/ Motorsport

Loeb claims victory at Rally Mexico

Updated: Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012 13:12

Sebastien Loeb - Keeping it classy
Sebastien Loeb - Keeping it classy

Sebastien Loeb won the Rally Mexico for the sixth time in succession to extend his lead in the FIA World Championship.

The Frenchman finished 42.4 seconds ahead of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to claim his second win in the first three races of the season as he begins his bid for a ninth straight title in strong style.

Holding a 36-second overnight lead, Loeb extended that fractionally on the day's opening Super Special 5, which brought Citroen Junior driver Thierry Neuville his first ever stage win.

He was pegged back slightly when Hirvonen won the dramatic 54.3km Stage 22 at Guanajuatito, but remained 35.8secs clear.

That stage also cost Hirvonen's fellow Finn Jari-Matti Latvala his chance of a podium finish as he rolled his Ford Fiesta, having been distracted by Evgeny Novikov's crash ahead of him, and also suffered a puncture.

He limped home seven minutes slower than the stage winner and was forced out of the race, from third, before the start of the next stage due to a damaged roll cage.

There were also punctures for Mads Ostberg and Ken Block, while Chris Atkinson had to retire from the rally after breaking his Fiesta's front suspension on the titanic stage.

Loeb was more than five seconds clear of Hirvonen on Stage 23 at Derramadero and made sure of victory with second place on the closing VW Power Stage, won by Petter Solberg to earn the Norwegian three bonus points and help him take third place overall.

"I am very happy," said Loeb. "I always win here.

"It is a great result for the team as well, with Mikko finishing second, a one-two for us."

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