Sebastien Loeb stretched his astounding unbeaten run in Rally Germany by winning the event for an eighth time with another dominant performance.
Citroen driver Loeb was never headed this weekend, pulling out an ever-increasing lead over his teammate Dani Sordo before eventually triumphing by 51 seconds. Loeb's fifth win of 2010 extends his championship lead to 58 points with four rallies to go, meaning he could clinch his seventh consecutive title in Japan next month.
Sordo was satisfied with second place on his return to the factory team, particularly as he was in his first rally with new co-driver Diego Vallejo. He had kept Loeb within sight until the Frenchman's blistering performance on the Saturday morning run through the 48-kilometre Panzerplatte stage built a secure lead.
"A very good victory for me again – the eighth one in a row," said Loeb. "It's incredible, I really have a good feeling on this rally. I wouldn't like to be beaten here, and this time it's all OK again."
Contesting the event in WRC machinery for the first time, Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) made a quiet start before taking fourth from Mikko Hirvonen and then closing on Jari-Matti Latvala – taking third when the Finn spun on Panzerplatte.
Latvala went on to secure fourth, scant consolation for Ford on a weekend that saw transmission problems on both Saturday and Sunday forcing Hirvonen to retire, Ken Block's Monster Ford suffering a broken alternator on a road section, and returnee Francois Duval crashing his Stobart Ford heavily on Panzerplatte while running fifth.
Petter Solberg would have featured in the podium fight had he not lost several minutes to two damaged tyres on Friday. He took five stage victories as he fought back to fifth place.
The closest battle ended up being between Matthew Wilson and Kimi Raikkonen for sixth. The Stobart Ford driver slipped ahead of the Citroen Junior man when Raikkonen made some small errors on Sunday morning, and then held the position despite the Finn winning the rally-closing superspecial.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h59m38.3s
2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 51.3s
3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 2m13.3s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 2m33.9s
5. Petter Solberg Citroen + 6m47.7s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 8m46.7s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 8m50.5s
8. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 17m36.5s
9. Mark van Eldik Subaru + 17m53.0s
10. Patrik Sandell Skoda + 17m58.8s