Snowman Loeb wins seventh Monte Carlo title

World champion Sebastian Loeb, in a Citroen, clinched a seventh Monte Carlo Rally title on Saturday after heavy snow and driving rain caused the race's last two stages to be cancelled.

French driver Sebastien Loeb drives his Citroen DS3 during the 15th special stage of the Monte-Carlo rally, the opening stage of the World Rally Championship, on January 19, 2013 in Luceram, southeastern France. Loeb clinched a seventh Monte Carlo Rally title on Saturday after heavy snow and driving rain caused the race's last two stages to be cancelled.

Compatriot Sebastien Ogier, in Volkswagen, took second place as Loeb netted a 77th career win.

Stages 17 and 18 were scrapped because of the worsening weather conditions which also caused major problems for spectators, three of whom were hospitalised after falling on the treacherous surface.

Two had suffered broken legs, organisers said, amid reports as many as five spectators had fallen into a ravine with organisers, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), saying emergency rescue services had had to be deployed.

The injuries to the bystanders forced the curtailment of stage 16 around Col de Turini and the remaining specials were scrubbed as conditions worsened.

"You just couldn't drive as the snow was engorged with water owing to the rain and you couldn't keep on the road," said Loeb.

While happy to have added yet another win to his record, Loeb admitted that under the circumstances he could derive only limited pleasure from it.

"I have never raced Monte-Carlo in such wintry conditions - there were some doubts at the start (about whether the race could take place). We wondered if we were going to be able to stay on the road.

"As regards the cancellation (of the latter stages) that doesn't bother me as there was no pleasure to be had in racing in such conditions."

Nine-time world champion Loeb, who had led Ogier by 1min 40sec ahead of the annulled specials, had led the season-opener since Friday's second stage as he looked to make the most of his limited schedule this season.

The Frenchman has decided to race only four events in the 2013 championship - he now will only compete in Sweden, Argentina and France.

About the author

columnist
Writer: AFP
Position: News agency