Seb loses battle but wins the war

Seb loses battle but wins the warFrom Ben Mulkern [ 19/09/2004 ].
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Sebastien Loeb had to be content with second spot once again on the Wales Rally of GB as Norway's Petter Solberg stole a victory from under his nose, but it's not quite a repeat of the horrors of 2003 for the Citroen man. Last year on this event his title hopes were cruelly denied by his team's pursuit of the manufacturer's title but this year's twist has seen Seb content to avoid too-risky a battle with Solberg, safe in the knowledge that he will pick up eight points for second and with it almost certainly a maiden driver's title. Petter was looking to coax the Alsace man into a mistake all weekend, and drove superbly through the penultimate stage of Margam to finally snatch a lead, but the awesome Loeb was too canny to risk losing everything.

Solberg wins the rally for a third time in a row, and narrows the gap to 28 points with 40 points remaining to be contested - it would need a miracle for the title not to go to Loeb now. Markko Martin soldiered on througout the event, with a huge cloud hanging over the future of the team, and finished in third place, nearly three minutes behind the winner Solberg. Carlos sainz was fourth, with Duval and Hirvonen completing the top six.