x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Three in a row for Loeb

Sebastien Loeb of France, the defending world champion, holds off Mikko Hirvonen to win the Rally of Cyprus for his third consecutive victory.

NICOSIA // Sebastien Loeb of France, the defending world champion, held off Mikko Hirvonen of Finland to win the Rally of Cyprus for his third consecutive victory of the season. The five-time champion's 27.2sec win lifted his career victory tally to a record 50 races - 20 more than his nearest rival. Loeb covered the 14 special stages in 4hr 50min 34.7sec to move to 30 points in the overall standings, eight ahead of Hirvonen.

Daniel Sordo, Loeb's Citroen teammate, remained third overall with 17 points after finishing fourth in Cyprus. The final point went to Hirvonen's BP Ford Abu Dhabi teammate Khalid al Qassimi, who finished eighth overall. The UAE driver, who was solid on Saturday, continued his consistent run yesterday to pick up his second point of the season. Muddy gravel tracks across the Troodos mountain range again challenged drivers, as a cautious Loeb pushed his Citroen C4 hard enough in the event's final three stages to protect a lead accumulated over the previous two days.

"It's incredible," Loeb said of his 50th win. "It's like a dream. I'm very happy with what I've achieved, but I'm not finished yet. Next, I'm going for 51." sports@thenational.ae