Sebastien Loeb has taken another step closer to the World Rally title after his last remaining rival Sebastien Ogier retired from day two of the Rally of France with a broken damper.
Although Ogier was still in mathematical contention for the championship, he was always highly unlikely to beat Citroen team leader Loeb to the crown, not just because he was 43 points behind with only three rallies left, but because he declared he would treat France as a learning experience and had no intention of pushing for victory.
Ogier was running third in France until his Citroen Junior C4 developed the suspension issue on SS13 today. He then had to park the car on SS14, and though the team expects him to restart under superally rules tomorrow, he will be over 10 minutes behind, with no chance of fighting for the podium. That means Loeb only has to finish sixth or higher this weekend to secure a record-extending seventh consecutive WRC title. He currently leads the rally by 42.9sec over his teammate Dani Sordo.
Ogier's teammate Kimi Raikkonen also stopped on SS15, with initial reports suggesting he had his second accident of the day. The crew are reported to be unhurt and the car relatively undamaged, but it cannot be brought back onto the road.