Sbastien Loeb pulled another four points away from his closest rival in the World Rally Championship at the weekend, as the reigning World Champion headed a thrilling Citron 1-2 finish in New Zealand, where the French Manufacturer claimed its 50th WRC victory and extended its lead in the WRC Manufacturers' Standings.
Loeb and Dani Sordo had been running third and fourth on the last day, but Loeb was closing in on the leaders until he was 15.3 seconds behind with just two stages to go. Keeping the pressure on the Ford runners paid off, and eventually both Citron drivers were able to capitalise when Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala hit problems.
"We were aware that this was probably too big a gap to bridge in normal circumstances but we never gave up, and our efforts ended up paying," said Loeb. "It's becoming something of a tradition for the last day of this rally to produce nail-biting finishes!"
Citron Sport Team Manager Olivier Quesnel was naturally delighted with the result. "We never tire of saying that victory is never in the bag until the finish line has been crossed, and we saw that once again today! Everyone in the team responded perfectly to the way the weekend unfolded and that put our two crews in a strong position going into the last day. That in turn enabled them to push their rivals into making mistakes."
Citron's first win came on Rally Catalunya in 1999 where Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni won in the Citroen Xsara Kit-Car. Loeb and Elena have claimed 44 of the manufacturer's 50 wins, making themselves World Rallying's greatest ever driver/co-driver pairing.