Loeb scores in Monte Carlo
Updated: Saturday, 19 Jan 2013 23:11
Sebastien Loeb claimed his 77th career WRC victory after emerging unscathed from a chaotic and curtailed final day at the Monte Carlo Rally.
The Citroen driver claimed his seventh win on the Monte after race organisers were forced to abandon the day's final two stages on safety grounds.
The final leg was hit by drama this afternoon as three top-10 runners were forced into retirement after slush and ice created treacherous conditions on the Col de Turini mountain pass.
The M-Sport Fords of Evgeny Novikov and Juho Hanninen were both forced out after coming to grief, while the Volkswagen of Jari-Matti Latvala slid out of sixth place.
Those that survived the stage did so at crawling pace, with many drivers admitting afterwards that the conditions were the worst they had ever experienced.
The adverse weather forced many spectators to attempt to abandon the mountain ahead of the final two stages through the same terrain, and with congestion a major problem as the area emptied, organisers were forced to act.
A statement on the official WRC website read: "The organisers of Rallye Monte-Carlo have stopped the event early, after huge numbers of spectators forced the cancellation of the final two stages on safety grounds.
"The results after SS16 become the final classification, meaning Citroen DS3 driver Sebastien Loeb has claimed his 77th victory in the FIA World Rally Championship and his seventh on the Rallye Monte-Carlo."
Sebastien Ogier survived the carnage to claim second place for VW, a result which as good as puts the Frenchman into the lead of the championship as reigning nine-time champion Loeb is only committed to contesting three further races this season as part of a scaled-back programme.
Dani Sordo took the final podium place in his Citroen.
The troubles over the Col de Turini left Loeb severely frustrated that the drivers were unable to put on a better show for the race fans that braved the elements.
"It's really uninteresting to drive like this, but if you go out of the lines you are off the road," he said.
"So you just drive slowly, which isn't very interesting for us or the spectators, but it's like that.
"I put on a small display for the spectators at the top - but only because I lost control a bit!"
Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen took fifth place, over five minutes behind the winner, while Bryan Bouffier profited from the slew of retirements to take fifth with Mads Ostberg sixth.
FIA World Rally Championship, Rallye Monte-Carlo, Monte Carlo, Monaco
1 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 5hrs 18mins 57.200secs
2 Sebastien Ogier (Fra) Volkswagen 5:20:37.100
3 Daniel Sordo (Spa) Citroen 5:22:46.200
4 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Citroen 5:24:23.500
5 Bryan Bouffier (Fra) Ford 5:27:10.300
6 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Ford 5:31:00.900
7 Martin Prokop (Cze) Ford 5:42:24.500
8 Sepp Wiegand (Ger) Skoda 5:48:31.700
9 Olivier Burri (Swi) Subaru 5:54:35.400
10 Michal Kosciuszko (Pol) Mini 5:55:25.200