''I can't be happy that he retired''Sebastien Loeb
is enjoying a perfect start to the 2009 World Rally Championship after taking maximum points on each round contested so far.
The works Citroen driver's title bid is obviously on the right track, but on the last outing
at Rally Argentina his efforts were given a boost due to the retirement of his main rival, the factory Ford team's Mikko Hirvonen.
The Finn was forced to stop when the temperature of his engine skyrocketed on Day Two; his retirement and consequent zero points score allowed Loeb to bring his lead in the drivers' standings to 20 points with seven races to go.
"That's racing, that's motorsports," commented Loeb. "Last year, I was the one making several errors and because of that I had trouble getting the title. This year for the time being he's the first to retire, so the roles have been switched."
"I would say that we didn't really need that," he considered. "But it could happen to us too next time and we'll be telling ourselves 'luckily it happened to him'."
However, as a seasoned competitor, Loeb prefers to win following a hard-fought battle rather than seeing Hirvonen stopping his car on the side of the road.
"I can't be happy that he retired. He's my rival for the championship," the Frenchman pointed out. "We had already taken the advantage legitimately, but these are free points that he's giving us.
"He's a good driver, they have a good car, but he was betrayed by his equipment and it's a shame for him," he added.
Notwithstanding Hirvonen's retirement in Argentina, Loeb was already leading the event. The five-time champion is again writing a new chapter in his WRC career, proving himself unbeatable since the beginning of the season.
"It's clear that it's more than positive. We couldn't have hoped to win five out of five races," Loeb admitted. "It's an incredible start to the championship."
Hirvonen will have another attempt at breaking his rival's string of victories during the next round when the competition returns to Europe for Rally d'Italia Sardegna, from May 22nd to 24th.
Championship challenges aside, the fact remains that navigating the gravel surfaces at high speeds remains a highly difficult thing to accomplish, assured the current WRC leader.
"Seen from the inside, it's not easy," Loeb stated.