Argentina - Citroen World Rally Team - Finish
A perfectly-paced display from the Citroen World Rally Team at the 2009 Rally Argentina has produced another one-two finish for the French squad, while the faultless drive of Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena has taken their personal
score to five straight wins on the South American round.
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti finished in their teammates' wake to move into second place in the provisional Drivers' World Championship standings.
Following two long legs on Friday and Saturday, survivors faced a much shorter programme on Sunday. The last day's 48 kilometres of competitive action were divided into four different stages, plus a third visit to the super special in the Cordoba Stadium.
However, with no chance to service their cars between stages, the majority of the field preferred to take a cautious approach.
"It's a bit of a shame to have to drive defensively because today's stages are really nice," observed Sebastien Loeb
. "There are quite a few jumps which are fun when you're pushing hard, but we will need to stay fully focused if we want to secure our fifth win here in Argentina."
Despite their risk-free approach, Loeb and Sordo monopolised the top of the timesheets on each of the first two stages. After losing ground early on because of technical trouble, Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala responded to claim the next two tests, just tenths of a second clear of the Citroen duo.
Loeb and Sordo then rounded off the weekend in style by securing a last one-two result for their team in front of a packed-house crowd at Cordoba Stadium.
After wrapping up their 52nd world class success, Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena had a special thought for Carlos Sainz who took his own record to 26 WRC wins here in Argentina, in 2004, driving a Xsara WRC with Marc Marti sitting alongside.
"So much has happened since then," remembered Loeb as he savoured his success after the finish. "We were second behind Carlos and Marc that year. Since then, we haven't been beaten here in Argentina."
"It's always nice to win this rally," he continued. "This year's event was difficult to begin with and we had to drive flat out until Saturday lunchtime. The situation then tipped in our favour when (Ford's) Mikko Hirvonen hit trouble and we were able to control from in front after that. That said, I tried to keep up a quick pace all the way to the finish because it can be so easy to make a mistake over a jump, or by clouting one of the countless rocks that line the stages here. It's been a dream start to the season for us!"
Dani Sordo finished second overall to dislodge Mikko Hirvonen from second place by one point in the chase for the Drivers' title.
"I felt comfortable throughout the weekend," Sordo said. "This is our second one-two finish of the year and it's a great result for the whole team. My intention now is to defend my second place in the championship."