2009 World Rally Championships come to Sligo
Sebastian Loeb takes victory in Rally Ireland 2009. The Frenchman dominated Rally Ireland 2009 throughout and gave himself the best possible start to the defence of his WRC title.
Loeb survived a couple of very hairy moments over the three days, both of which threatened to end his involvement in the rally but he was simply better than anyone else in the field.
Loeb finished 87 seconds clear of Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo, with BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen in third. Top Irishman home was Eamonn Boland in ninth, with Group N claimed by Shaun Gallagher.
An indication of Loeb's dedication could be gleaned straight after he crossed the finishing line,when Rally Ireland asked him if he would be celebrating tonight by letting his hair down.
"No, I will be flying out tonight straight away... I have to prepare now for Norway in two weeks' time," he said.
Not exactly a party animal then!
Driving rain may have made the first two days of Rally Ireland 2009 difficult for competitors and spectators alike but the sun shone on Sunday and crowds thronged the roads of Sligo and Donegal for the final stages.
Despite the atrocious conditions, gardai said spectator numbers surpassed the 250,000 mark of 2007, with an estimated 270,000 people watching the event. A bumper crowd of 47,000 thronged Donegal Bay and town for the final stages.
For full results click here....... For pictures from Rally Ireland 2009 click here.......