Loeb hands Michelin its 250th WRC victory!

In addition to notching up the 76th world class win of their career today on the 2012 Rally RACC, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena took Citroën’s score to 90 WRC and Michelin’s total to an impressive 250 world championship victories! The Franco-Monegasque pair was joined on the podium (both in Spain and in the 2012 Drivers’ championship) by Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen. Craig Breen (Ford/Michelin) and Benito Guerra (Mitsubishi/Michelin) are the 2012 SWRC and PWRC champions respectively.

Sébastien Loeb wrapped up his ninth title-winning year with his eighth straight win in Spain. The Frenchman appeared at the top of the leaderboard after SS8 and then pulled gradually clear of his main rivals, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen. Despite the return of wet weather for the last loop of stages, he held on to his advantage to beat Ford/Michelin’s Latvala by seven seconds.

Loeb hands Michelin its 250th WRC victory!

The first day of competition in Catalonia saw Ford/Michelin privateer Mads Ostberg emerge from the appalling conditions as the early leader, but no fewer than 25 drivers fell by the wayside, including Petter Solberg, Thierry Neuville, Martin Prokop, Chris Atkinson and Dani Sordo. The three factory drivers fought back on the ensuing asphalt stages, however, to produce a more conventional top three.

Most of the first day’s victims were able to re-join the event under the ‘Rally2’ ruling and Sordo took advantage of the opportunity to claim six fastest times (the best score of the weekend) at the wheel of his Mini/Michelin. Meanwhile, the crowds were kept entertained by the battle for fourth place between Tanak and Ostberg which lasted until the Estonian crashed out on SS16.

Mads Ostberg then gave it everything he could on the Power Stage to challenge for a podium finish, not only in Spain but also in the Drivers’ championship. He didn’t succeed, but he managed to hold on to fourth place, well clear of Jarkko Nikara (Mini/Michelin).

Craig Breen and Benito Guerra didn’t need to win at all costs in Spain to clinch the SWRC and PWRC crowns, but that didn’t prevent them from concluding their 2012 campaigns with another win each. The final round of the 2012 WRC Academy was won by Spaniard Jose Suarez, but the title was settled last month in France by Elfyn Evans.