sport

Ogier holds off Loeb in Sweden

Sebastien Ogier claimed victory in Rally Sweden on Sunday as nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb was made to pay for a costly crash.

Volkswagen driver Ogier went into the final day 26.9 seconds clear of former Citroen team-mate Loeb, who kept the pressure on with victories in the opening three stages.

However, Loeb was made to pay for an error on stage 21 in Finnskogen when he crashed into a snow bank and so was unable to make any more inroads into the deficit which finished at 41.8 seconds.

Ford Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg was third, as the Norwegian came in 42.7sec behind Loeb.

Frenchman Ogier, 29, went on to claim three bonus points for the World Rally Championship standings when he also won the Power Stage, by 0.9sec from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Sunday's win was the eighth at World Championship level for Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia, taking them to the top of the 2013 FIA drivers' championship.

Ogier was quick to pay tribute to his team following the win.

He told wrc.com: "I must thank them because they have given me a perfect car all weekend. I've never had a car like that. Unbelievable.

"The win here was amazing but also a big surprise. We have spent so much time and effort with the team in preparation - all of last year - but we never expected to have this performance so soon.

"It couldn't be better. This morning Sebastien (Loeb) was putting a lot of pressure on. He was flying into the stages. We tried to follow him without maximum risk but we had to push because he was so fast. To win like that is amazing."

Loeb revealed his frustration at finishing second lay with his poor result on the pre-rally qualifying stage that determined the early running order.

He said: "We lost a lot because of that I think. We didn't get a good road position, then we changed the car set-up to try and improve things but that led to two mistakes on the first day and the loss of about 30-seconds.

"Okay, Sebastien Ogier didn't make any mistakes. He has done the perfect rally. There was nothing more I could do."

Ostberg, who equalled his result last year, was pleased to finish ahead of Latvala in a close battle for third.

The Norwegian's rally looked to have been cut short after a problem with his Fiesta's cooling system caused a scare, but he fought back to beat Latvala and finish 42.7 seconds behind Loeb.

Ostberg said: "I understood quite early that a win wasn't going to be possible, and since then it's been a big fight for third.

"It's been a very up and down rally but I'm pleased to have won the fight with Jari-Matti. It's a great feeling."

Ford Fiesta RS driver Thierry Neuville was fifth with Juho Hanninen finishing in sixth position, while Henning Solberg survived a 540-degree mid-air spin on the last stage to come home in eighth behind Czech driver Martin Prokop.