March 8, 2010 / 4:09 AM / 9 years ago

Loeb tops championship after Mexico victory

Sebastien Loeb of France poses with the Mexican boots and a bottle of tequila that were given to him after winning the FIA World Rally championship (WRC) Rally of Mexico in Leon, in Guanajuato, March 7, 2008. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Six-times world champion Sebastien Loeb cruised to an easy victory in the Rally of Mexico on Sunday to move top of the drivers’ standings after two races.

The Frenchman, who started the day in first place for Citroen almost a minute ahead of Norwegian Petter Solberg, finished 24.2 seconds ahead of the pack for his 55th victory at world championship level.

Citroen driver Solberg and Sebastien Ogier were left to scrap it out for the runner-up spot, providing a thrilling finale.

Former world champion Solberg narrowly trailed Frenchman Ogier going into the decisive Super Special stage but set the fastest time to beat the Citroen Junior Team driver to second overall by 1.1 seconds.

“I had a good lead today and was not going to take any risks with that when I started first on the road,” Loeb, who has now won in Mexico four years in a row, told the World Rally Championship website (www.wrc.com).

“I was just breezing through the last couple of stages trying to keep my concentration. It’s a good victory; I’m back in the lead of the championship and the points we lost in Sweden we’ve won back — that’s important.

Behind Citroen’s top-three finish, Ford’s Rally of Sweden winner Mikko Hirvonen finished fourth with his team mate Jari-Matti Latvala completing the top five.

Loeb has a six-point lead over Finn Hirvonen in the championship standings. The next round of the championship is the Jordan Rally which starts on April 1.

Reporting by Neil Maidment and Alison Wildey in London; Editing by Alan Baldwin; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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