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  Home > Seasons > Season 2008
Loeb breaks records
When Gronholm decided to retire after 2007 season, it was almost certain that Loeb would win the title again. Loeb's skill, Citroen's excellent reliability and lack of opposition played all the aces to Frenchman's hand. Even though Ford's Hirvonen fought valiantly and led the championship for much long than was anticipated, the end result proves how dominant Sebastien was. 11 wins out of 15 rallies (a record), fifth consecutive title (another record), maiden wins in both Finland and Great Britain and so on.

His main opposition came from youngsters at Ford and even though Hirvonen had matured a lot during his previous two seasons at Ford, his ability to challenge and especially maintain the challenge to Loeb was in doubt. Young Latvala, who had been promoted from Ford's B-team Stobart, was an unknown player. Jari-Matti proved his speed when he won Swedish Rally and became youngest WRC winner ever. Unfortunately for Ford, he crashed too often and team couldn't retain makes championship.

Citroen and Ford conquered the podium places regularly, leaving only crumbs to Subaru. Even though team improved their car enough to keep comfortably ahead of Stobart (unlike in previous season), six podiums as team's best results were not nearly enough of what was wanted. Stobart meanwhile had a number of accidents resulting injuries, Galli in Rally Deutschland and Duval in Japan. Suzuki did not seem to decided whether to contest or spectate, their testing programme being non-existent.

Calendar was changed again. Australia was out while it was preparing for a new venue under new management and total number of events reduced by one to 15 in all. Norway, Ireland and Portugal, which all had been introduced a year earlier did not get a repeat runs but instead new event in Jordan was in as well as Turkey which was re-admitted back to the championship.

In rule wise, the road position order was reverted back to old "rally leader runs first" -format. This led to major tactical games during the season in certain rallies as top competitors tried to avoid being first on the road. Even bigger change was the adoption of control tyre and banning both mousse and tyre cutting. Punctures and driving on unsuitable tyre became a norm, drawing vocal opposition from the drivers.

The two biggest changes for the sport came after the season ended when first Suzuki and then Subaru announced that they wouldn't contest the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship, leaving only two top teams in the series.

New cars
With only four manufacturers left in the game, there was very little new in the way of works rally cars. Ford upped their Focus RS from 07 model to 08 model half-way in the year but it was virtually unnoticeable change. Suzuki continued with SX4 WRC and Citroen with C4 WRC.

It was left to Subaru to debut the only new car of the season when they abandoned the traditional saloon and switched to a hatchback with Impreza WRC2008. It was thrown in to the front line half-developed as team hoped to learn more from competition instead of developing the car behind the scenes. High hopes were in the air when car was shown to the press before Acropolis rally but when season (again) ended without any wins, Subaru's announcement to withdraw from the WRC did not surprise everyone.

2008 FIA champions
(Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window)
2008 FIA World Rally Champions, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena Click picture to see larger version in a pop-up window
Drivers scoring their
first win
  J. Latvala (Sweden)
first drivers' point
  P. Andersson (Monte Carlo)
  J. Cuoq (Monte Carlo)
  A. Mikkelsen (Sweden)
  S. Ogier (Mexico)
  C. Rautenbach (Argentina)
  M. Rantanen (Finland)
first stage win
  U. Aava (Acropolis)
  A. Kim (Japan)
  S. Ogier (Great Britain)