Citroën's Sébastien Loeb romped to victory in the Turkish Rally at the weekend. The Frenchman extended his championship lead to 13 points and equalled 1985 world champion Timo Salonen's record for winning four successive WRC events.

Citroën's Sébastien Loeb romped to victory in the Turkish Rally at the weekend. The Frenchman extended his championship lead to 13 points and equalled 1985 world champion Timo Salonen's record for winning four successive WRC events.


The defending rally world champion won 10 of the 17 special stages in Turkey and his Xsara WRC took the chequered flag almost one minute ahead of Petter Solberg in a Subaru Impeza WRC and 1:15,3 minutes ahead of Finland's Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 307 WRC).


Spain's Carlos Sainz notched up fourth place on his comeback and was 4:17,9 off the pace on the third and final day. But his team-mate, Loeb, clinched his fifth victory of the year and 15th of his short career...


It was Frenchman Loeb's fourth consecutive victory of the season after wins in New Zealand, Sardinia and Cyprus. Twenty years ago, Salonen scored wins in Greece, New Zealand, Argentina and Finland en route to winning the championship by 52 points.


"I didn't feel threatened at all (by the rival drivers)," Loeb said after the rally. "Four wins in a row! I'm clearly on a positive run at the moment, but I want to stress the importance of the team's contribution to this series of wins. They are more motivated than ever and continue not to make any mistakes."


Behind Loeb, Gronholm was unable to make up ground on Solberg, who had snatched second place from the Peugeot pilot at the end of Saturday's second leg. Even desperate weight-saving measures were not enough to catch Solberg's Impreza, although Gronholm did manage to win the final stage.


"I did my best to pass Petter today, I even removed the air conditioning unit from my car at service to save a bit of weight, but there was nothing more I could do," the Finn said. "We were very close until the last 7 km of SS17, then Petter did a very good time. Of course I was pushing, but my instructions were to get to the finish and make sure of scoring some points for Peugeot."


It was, in fact, the second half of SS17, the second pass through the 16,5-km Chimera stage, that proved decisive for Solberg. The Norwegian started Sunday with an eight-second advantage over Gronholm, but doubled his advantage over his Finnish rival to 16 seconds on SS17.


"The rally actually worked very well for me and we had a good two days," Solberg said. "I took quite a lot of time out of Marcus yesterday and had a good feeling that I could do something similar today. We attacked quite hard on the first stage, but on the second we just drove according to the splits. We managed to secure second place and I'm very pleased for Subaru and the team."


Behind the leading trio, it was a fight for manufacturers' championship points, and Markko Martin proved the key for Peugeot, taking fourth place and limiting the damage Citroën inflicted on its sister marque's championship lead.


"This has been a tough rally for us and we have struggled to find complete confidence in the car," the Estonian ace said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but at least we have come away with some points which are vital for both championships."


Citroën still made up three points on Peugeot's lead, though, with the successful return of veteran driver and two-time WRC champion Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard, who first drove in WRC in 1987 in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, took the place of struggling Francois Duval to help the French team in the manufacturers' fight, and that was exactly what Sainz delivered.


A fifth place in Turkey gives Citroën four key points in the manufacturers' race, and raises the expectation that Sainz will return for the demanding Acropolis Rally. Citroën team boss Guy Frequelin is reportedly keen to retain El Matador for Greece.

Original article from Car