How Hirvonen became a match for Loeb

How Hirvonen became a match for Loeb

Sebastien Loeb isn't used to losing rallies, but Mikko Hirvonen beat him fair and square in Sweden. David Evans explains why that could make this a classic World Rally Championship season

The World Rally Championship is not exactly a hotbed of sledging, not any more. There's the odd Anglo-French needle, but nothing sinister. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I thought Citroen's good sportsmanship at the end of last week's Rally Sweden worthy of note. We're not talking about the kind of Freddie Flintoff-Brett Lee bonhomie, but Sebastien Loeb and his team principal Olivier Quesnel displayed admirable honesty in their end of event appraisals.

Both Loeb and Quesnel have become entirely accustomed to winning rallies. They're riding on the back of a six-year purple patch where losing was a concept entirely foreign to the pair of them. In Karlstad last week, they were soundly beaten. And they made absolutely no attempt to hide from that fact. There were no Gallic grumps or Mediterranean mards, just a cold, hard admission of defeat.

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