Citroen Total World Rally Team driver Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena have won their second successive event, Rally Jordan, in the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a 35.8 second leading margin over Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala.

Loeb, the six-time champion, extends his lead in the 13 round series following various tactical moves by the leading teams that altered the event’s running order.

Latvala’s second place with co-driver Miikka Anttila moved the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team pairing to second in the standings, 25 points behind Loeb.

Third after the three days on tough gravel roads was the privately-entered Citroen C4 WRC pairing of Petter Solberg and Phil Mills. The top three were well clear of the rest of field.

With only 27 teams making it to the finish after 21 stages, early casualties included the rally’s 2008 winners Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in their Ford Focus RS WRC.

Run from Thursday to Saturday to avoid the Islamic weekend, the rally traversed regions steeped in biblical history dipping to 420 metres below sea-level in places. This was only the second time the event has been on the WRC calendar and its 339 km of competitive stages were set west of Jordan’s capital, Amman.

The event featured tactics such as stopping or slowing in a stage and incurring time penalties to change the following day’s starting order. Citroën’s ploy at the end of the Friday altered the results to place Loeb second on the road for the final day behind Citroën Junior Team driver Sébastien Ogier.

“We asked Sébastien Ogier to check in early to sweep the road,” explained Oliver Quesnel, the Citroen Racing team principal. “We had a technical problem with his car in the service park, which dashed his hopes of a podium. We reckoned that this strategy would give Sebastien Loeb a better chance of defending his first place.”

“For sure the team strategy made things a bit easier for me, but I’m not sure I really needed it,” said Loeb, having just recorded his 56th world rally victory.

Latavala, who turned 25 on the event’s final day, led early in the rally through the hard-base roads north of Jordan.  However playing road-sweeper on the second day dropped the Finn down the order.

“This is my third good result in three rallies this season and this run has boosted my confidence. The tactical decisions this morning changed the course of the day. It had a huge effect with Loeb second in the start order. The difference between first and second in the order is huge in terms of road cleaning, while second and third or third and fourth is only marginal,” said Latvala, who won three special stages on Thursday and two on the Saturday.

It was also a notable event for former Formula One world champion Kimi Räikkönen who completed an entire WRC event for the first time. The Finn also claimed drivers’ championship points by finishing eighth overall.

Rally Jordan was also a round of the FIA Super 2000 and Production World Rally Championships (SWRC and PWRC). Patrik Flodin’s dominant driving style saw him win the PWRC class by a comfortable 1 minute 56.6 seconds in his Subaru Impreza to collect 25 points and second place on the leader-board after just two PWRC events compared to reigning PWRC champion Armindo Araújo (Portugal), who has done all three rallies to date, yet has just eight more points than Flodin. Araújo had to settle for second in Jordan’s raging heat after battling with Flodin throughout, and notching up three stage wins with increasing reliability being demonstrated by his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X.

In the SWRC field, Spanish Ford Fiesta driver Xevi Pons and his co-driver Alex Haro took their second win in as many events. Despite not having tested since Mexico, Pons was the only SWRC driver not to retire on any day of the three day event.  He claimed only three stage class wins, but Pons’ consistency and increasing familiarity with his Fiesta scooped him a comfortable class win and maximum points to top the SWRC leader-board. Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen came in a clear second ahead of fellow Škoda driver P-G Andersson (SWE), who took the last place on the SWRC podium.

Following Jordan, the FIA World Rally Championship crews head to the Rally of Turkey (15-18 April), while the SWRC and PWRC fields are not back in action until Rally New Zealand from 6 to 9 May.

Jordan Rally – Final Results
1, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, Citroën C4 WRC
2, Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila, Citroen C4, 3hr 51min 35.9sec
3, Petter Solberg/Phil Mills, Citroen C4, 3hr 52min 47.7sec
4, Dani Sordo/Marc Marti, Citroen C4, 3hr 53min 25.2sec
5, Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin, Ford Focus RS, 4hr 00min 00.2sec
6, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Citroen C4, 4hr 02min 02.3sec
7, Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc, Ford Focus RS, 4hr 03min 03.9sec
8, Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindstrom, Citroen C4, 4hr 04min 06.9sec
9, Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor, Ford Focus RS, 4hr 05min 44.5sec
10, Xavier Pons/Alex Haro, Ford Fiesta, 4hr 10min 09.8sec

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 3 of 13 rounds)
1, Sébastien Loeb (FRA), 68 points
2, Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), 43 points
3, Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), 37 points
4, Petter Solberg (NOR), 35 points
5, Sébastien Ogier (FRA), 33 points
6, Dani Sordo (ESP), 24 points
7, Henning Solberg (NOR), 18 points
8, Matthew Wilson (GBR), 16 points
9, Federico Villagra (ARG), 12 points
10, Mads Östberg (NOR) 4 points

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after 3 of 13 rounds)
1,Citroën Total World Rally Team, 101 points
2, BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, 87 points
3, Citroën Junior Team, 48 points
4, Stobart M-Sport Ford Rally Team, 44 points
5, Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team, 16 points

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