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Loeb claims opening win of the season in Mexico

Sebastien Loeb (right) and co-driver Daniel Elena share the spoils of victory in Mexico.
Sebastien Loeb (right) and co-driver Daniel Elena share the spoils of victory in Mexico.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Multi-world champion Sebastien Loeb wins Rally of Mexico in his Citroen C4
  • Loeb takes the lead in this year's championship from Mikko Hirvonen who finished fourth
  • Norway's Petter Solberg snatches surprise second place against of Sebastien Ogier
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(CNN) -- All-conquering Sebastien Loeb claimed his first win of this year's world rally championships with victory in Mexico on Sunday.

The reigning six-time champion held a lead of almost a minute heading into the final three stages and eased to a 24.2 second victory over Citroen privateer Petter Solberg.

Sebastien Ogier of France in a Citroen finished third ahead of Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, who won the season-opener in Sweden but has lost the lead in the overall championship to arch-rival Loeb.

"Finally a victory and back in the lead of the championship," Citroen's Loeb told the WRC official Web site.

"It was important after Sweden to win here. It's only the start of the championship but I'm really happy. We had a really good drive yesterday. Now it's looking good."

It was the Frenchman's 55th career victory in the championship and his fourth win in Mexico following triumphs in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Finally a victory and back in the lead of the championship
--Sebastien Loeb

The main battle on the last three stages was between first day leader Solberg and the talented Ogier, with the former world champion emerging faster in the final super-special stage.

"I'm delighted but absolutely exhausted," said Norway's Solberg.

"It's a great feeling to be back on the podium."

Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland finished fifth in his factory Ford.

Loeb leads Finn Hirvonen by six points in the overall standings.