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GP Week : Issue 22
last remaining major victories which had always eluded him, that of the Neste Oil Rally Finland, the traditional ‘1000 Lakes’Rally. None of the drivers on this F 36 event had ever won this rally before – Marcus Gronholm’s career retirement at the end of 2007 effectively opening this event up to others! Loeb won in style, leading from start to finish, with an INALLY the four-times world champion has added to his credentials one of the excellence of driving as well as a little bit of luck. Taking advantage of the Citroen C4 WRC’s preference for the narrow tracks which characterised this year’s event, Loeb ran most of the event with a lead of around a quarter minute. After a spin on the penultimate stage he finally finished just nine seconds ahead of his championship rival Mikko Hirvonen, who now heads the Frenchman by one point in the Drivers’Championship. Rains before the event had minimised the disadvantages of running first car on the road, making this a fair event, devoid of trickery and distrust which had lingered on after the Rally of Turkey. Loeb was tailed for a long time by a gaggle of Fords, but as the rally progressed third placed Gigi Galli went off the road, and Chris Atkinson speeded up in his new Subaru, and finally the top three places were taken by different marques. Among all this activity there was a guest missing from the party. On stage three Jari-Matti Latvala went off the road and broke his steering. This proved costly for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi team whose rivals Citroen Total scored points for a first and fourth places. There was a lot of depression on the first day in the Subaru camp. Petter Solberg headed Atkinson in sixth and seventh places, without showing the hoped-for pace they needed to challenge or victory . The on Day 2 Solberg suffered transmission problems, which created a lot of wheelspin, but Atkinson held his nerve and moved up the field to finish third.