A foreigner wins in Finland!
The 58th Rally Finland, ninth round of the 2008 World Rally Championship, promises to be remembered as a landmark event in the history of world class rallying.
The final leg saw Sebastien Loeb
and co-driver Daniel Elena clinch their first-ever
win in the country, while Dani Sordo and Marc Marti claimed fourth overall in the second C4 WRC to harvest valuable Manufacturers' points for Citroen.
Rally Finland is renowned as one of the WRC calendar's toughest fixtures, and its high-speed jumps and extremely fast stages call for years of experience. Since the creation of the Manufacturers' World Championship in 1973, only Carlos Sainz (1990) and Didier Auriol (1992) had succeeded in toppling the Finns on their home event.
The seventh attempt of Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena in a Citroen WRC car saw them become the third crew in WRC history to thwart the local stars.
"I'm thrilled to have won this rally," beamed Sebastien Loeb
at the finish. "And I'm especially pleased with the way we won it. From start to finish, the scrap reminded me of the thrilling clashes we had last year with Marcus Grönholm. It was a very close-run thing throughout and we were never able to relax.
"The decision to keep the lead at the end of the opening day involved a certain amount of risk because we didn't know exactly how much road-sweeping we would have to do," continued the four-time World Champion. "It meant pushing hard all the way, but the tactic finally paid off."
"This result gives our chances in the drivers' championship a terrific boost since it narrows the gap down to just three points (behind Ford's Mikko Hirvonen)," Loeb underlined. "It's been a positive weekend, too, for Citroen in the Manufacturers' standings."
"Beating the Finns in a straight fight on their home event is an indescribable experience," added co-driver Daniel Elena. "Plus the extraordinary sensation of feeling the car drifting with all four wheels at 200kph!"
"We spent the last day driving sufficiently quickly to defend our fourth place," related teammate Dani Sordo. "I am pleased with my performance this weekend and I didn't make any mistakes. There are still a few areas where I can improve, notably the way I brake. It's nice to be at the finish and it's the first time I've had that pleasure here in a WRC car."
"When you know just how tough it is to win this event, today's result is immensely satisfying," said Team Principal Olivier Quesnel. "Sébastien and Daniel didn't put a foot wrong and they came out on top at the end of what was an unrelenting fight. The tremendous work put in by everyone in the technical team on the C4 since last year has paid dividends."
"It was awesomely competitive and this is a top result," added Quesnel. "A magnificent victory, some outstanding times, clockwork reliability and a big points haul... what else could we ask for?"