MONACO: Three-time defending world rally champion Sebastien Loeb won the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Sunday.

Bidding for a fourth straight overall title, the Frenchman won at Monte Carlo for the fourth time in his career, beating Citroen teammate Daniel Sordo who was second. Ford’s Marcus Gronholm was third. “I like to start the season like this with 10 points,” Loeb said. “The car is really fast, my arm is much better. It was a good start to the season. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue.” More...Loeb, 32, won last year’s title despite missing the final four races after breaking his arm in a cycling accident. He is looking to equal the record set by Finland’s Tommi Makinen, who won four straight overall titles from 1996-1999. Loeb had little to do but drive safely in the final 2.8-kilometer (1.74-mile) drive around the harbor of Monaco, where he finished fifth fastest. Chris Atkinson of Australia won the 15th and final stage in 1 minute, 49.9 seconds. Gronholm of Finland was second in 1:50.4, and Mikko Hirvonen of Finland third in 1:50.9. Atkinson was delighted to break Citroen’s dominance, even though Loeb – who timed 1:51 – had no need to try and win on the final day. “We tried our hearts out, we really focused,” Atkinson said.

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