From General Article [ 30/11/2003 ].
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Sébastien Loeb today won the famous Race of Champions, the Michèle Mouton inspired rally season finale in which the rally world champions have a head to head shoot out on the Gran Canaries. Over the weekend there have been several competitions. The ROC Nations Cup and the ROC Juniors were held first with group N versions of Mitsubishi Lancer EvoVIII and Subaru Impreza and as well a Toyota Yaris. In the Nations Cup it was actually for the first time a mixed team winning, consiting of Gilles Panizzi, F1 driver da Matta and Motorbiker Nieto. This team beat the USA in the semi finals and Spain with Alonso, Servia and Alzamora in the finals. Spain first beat Sweden in the semi finals.
In the ROC Juniors the stars were Francois Duval and Daniel Carlsson. In the finals here Duval only narrowly beat Carlsson to take the crown.
After a weekend long qualifying process and sub races it seems ironic that in the 4 semi finalists of the main race was only 1 World Champion! The finalist were Marcus Grönholm, Gilles Panizzi, Francois Duval and Sébastien Loeb.
Marcus Grönholm had to compete against Gilles Panizzi and the shoot out was very close: In the first heat Grönholm beat Panizzi, but in the second run Panizzi hit back, beating Grönholm by less than one tenth of a second! The decider was when in the third run Marcus posted a time nearly a second faster than Gilles. So Marcus Grönholm, the ROC winner 2002, was again a finalist.
Finding the other finalist to Marcus Grönholm, Sébastien Loeb beat Francois Duval in only two runs. However here the gaps were also incredibly tight.
Now the ROC final looked exactly the same as last year: Grönholm vs Loeb. But this time Loeb kept the upper hand, beating Grönholm narrowly in the first two heats, making a third run obsolete.
Sébastien Loeb confirmed here the amazing form he displayed all season. He now has one title to add to his successes as well. To add to his claim, Séb beat Marcus in the finals driving Peugeot 206 WRCs!