LOEB & ELENA, THE CHAMPIONS… AGAIN!
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena cemented their status as the most successful driver and co-driver in the history of motor sport when they won their ninth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title this season. The duo was re-united with their trophies this evening on the occasion of the FIA Gala held in Istanbul, Turkey.
This year’s FIA World Rally Championship took the contenders around the world to 13 countries for competition over ice, snow, gravel and asphalt, providing a varied and unique challenge at each location. A newly-introduced qualifying stage added an extra dimension to the gravel rallies this year, where road position on the opening day of competition can prove critical. Much like circuit racing, the Championship contenders vied for fastest times during the qualifying sessions to enable them to choose their preferred starting position, adding excitement in the build-up to the event and creating greater interest for the media.
Loeb and Elena were once again unstoppable this season, the French/Monegasque pairing taking victories in Monte-Carlo, Mexico, Argentina, Greece, New Zealand, Finland, Germany and France, where they claimed the title in Haguenau, Loeb’s home town. The multiple World Champions then made a fitting exit to full-time WRC competition by winning the final round of the series in Spain. In a career in the sport spanning 14 years, the Loeb/Elena partnership has contested 164 FIA World Championship rallies together, claiming victory in a total of 76, a 46.34% victory-to-start rate.
Consistency from team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen assured them second position in the Championship when they took their first victory of the season on the penultimate round in Italy. This was also the first time Citroën crews have claimed a one-two finish in the Drivers’ Championship. Third position was taken by Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila in their final season with the Ford team.
Sébastien Loeb said:
“I feel big emotion because it’s the end of a beautiful story. Daniel and I had amazing and fantastic years with our team, we won rallies and Championships and have had incredible moments. It’s never easy to take the decision to stop and I feel moved because it’s the end of an era. But we have fresh challenges with Citroën now and I can’t wait to start this new adventure and try to win again with them. This trophy is for all the members of the Citroën Racing team because they have also made the story.”
In the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers, Loeb and Hirvonen’s combined tally of 10 victories this season – including five one-two finishes - assured the Citroën Total World Rally Team the title for the fifth consecutive year. In total, the French manufacturer has now won 90 World rallies and eight World titles.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, said:
“For my first year as Team Director I couldn’t expect this kind of success! We won the Manufacturer’s title, the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ title with Sébastien and Daniel, and Mikko and Jarmo are vice-World Champions. I’m really satisfied with the work of the whole team, but also really proud because of the strong competition in the Championship. The aim will be the same next year and we will do our best to try to win again.”
Competition was once again fierce in the FIA WRC Academy Cup, the junior feeder series that provides youngsters with the opportunity to showcase their talent on the world stage. Welshman Elfyn Evans became the second-ever winner of the Pirelli-supported Cup in which potential champions of the future are pitted against each other in identical Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars. Evans took a fourth consecutive win on the all-asphalt Rallye de France to put the title mathematically out of reach of his rivals with one round remaining. Spaniard Candido Carrera was crowned the winning FIA WRC Academy Cup Co-driver after finishing in the top five on every round contested and winning Rally de España.
2012 marked the third year of the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship and the series went down to the wire on the final round in Spain. Thirteen registered drivers fought for honours over the eight events and it was Craig Breen who claimed the title in a Ford Fiesta S2000. The Irishman took victory in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo and then courageously fought through a difficult season, rounding the year off with three consecutive victories to take the Championship laurels just 12 months after being crowned the FIA WRC Academy Cup winner. Emil Axelsson was honoured as the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Champion Co-driver, the Swede taking two wins during the season in his Proton Satria Neo S2000 and adding to his 2006 Junior World Rally Champion Co-driver title.
In the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, competition was equally fierce with six drivers vying for the crown in the final mixed surface round in Spain. Mexico’s Benito Guerra and Spanish co-driver Borja Rozada ultimately claimed the title with three victories throughout the season driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. With a win on home soil in Mexico, immediately followed by victory in Argentina, the Mexican was in contention throughout the season but put his position in jeopardy after crashing on the penultimate event in Italy. However, the pair bounced back to take a World Championship title back to Mexico for the first time in 41 years.
Saturday 8 December 2012
LOEB & ELENA, THE CHAMPIONS… AGAIN!
Posted by AmigosRacing/MRS GT. at 10:54