Citroën's Sebastien Loeb extended his lead in the WRC drivers' championship to 29 points by winning Rallye Deutschland for the third consecutive year on Sunday.

Citroën's Sebastien Loeb extended his lead in the WRC drivers' championship to 29 points by winning Rallye Deutschland for the third consecutive year on Sunday.



The Frenchman seized the lead after SS2 on Friday and never looked back, setting seven fastest stage times.


"Winning for the third time so close to my home is just great," Loeb said. "This result is very important for the world championship. Because of the adverse weather conditions, it was a very, very difficult rally."


Francois Duval was second, for Ford, only 29.1 seconds behind, and although he kept charging throughout Sunday's final seven stages, the margin at the start of the day - nearly 1 minute – was just to much to overhaul.


"This was my best drive ever," the Belgian said. "I've really enjoyed the weekend because the weather and roads were so similar to rallies at home in Belgium. The conditions were very difficult but I've learned a lot and made big progress here. I pushed hard today and I really believe I could have won if it had not been for our time loss on Friday."


Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, was third, to complete the podium, in the second Xsara. Ford's Markko Martin was fourth.


"Today was OK but the roads were tricky and our emphasis was on surviving," said Martin. "Many corners were quite muddy and damp under the trees and I pushed just enough to keep ahead of Robert. There was no point in taking risks. It hasn't been a particularly enjoyable weekend because the conditions have been so hard and I'm just glad to see the finish."


Peugeot’s Cedric Robert and Freddy Loix completed the top six, the former shining on his full debut for the French manufacturer, while the latter was back in action after last competing in February in Sweden.


The final points scoring positions went to Skoda's Toni Gardemeister and Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen, in seventh and eighth respectively.


Hirvonen was just happy to finish: "It's been a challenging event due to the difficult conditions. Following a poor tyre choice this morning, we were pleased to make up time this afternoon, when I was happier with the tyres I selected, giving me both Manufacturers' and Drivers' points. When I'm on the right tyres, my confidence in the car is really good. However, when conditions are poor and I'm not 100 per cent sure on the tyres, I struggle."


Ex-Formula One test driver Stephane Sarrazin was the top privateer, ninth overall, while Alex Bengue rounded out the top ten, with Armin Schwarz just outside in the last of the 'works' cars, eleventh overall in his Fabia.


Although there were no major retirements on Sunday, a number of 'works' drivers, went out on Leg One and Two after going off the road, including Marcus Gronholm (SS1), Daniel Sola (SS2), Roman Kresta (SS9) Gilles Panizzi (SS9) and Petter Solberg (SS12), the latter spectacularly destroying his Impreza. Thankfully though all drivers and co-drivers escaped serious injuries.