click above for more high-res action shots

Rally-racing superstar Sebastien Loeb drove into the history books this past Sunday in Monaco when he and co-driver Daniel Elena (a native of Monaco) took the checkered flag at the Monte Carlo Rally for a record fifth time. The Monaco stages kicked off the 2008 World Rally Championship, and Loeb is hoping that the victory at the season opener will be the first of many as he and Elena campaign for their fifth consecutive WRC title.

Although Dani Sordo, Loeb's team-mate at Citroen, put up an early fight, Sordo retired from second place with engine problems, leaving Loeb with an eventual two-and-a-half second lead over Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen. Acknowledging Loeb's repeated domination in Monte Carlo, Hirvonen was satisfied with his second-place finish.

This was the last time the Monte Carlo Rally counts towards the World Rally Championship, as next year the event joins the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The WRC picks up again in Sweden on February 8.

We've selected some of the finer action shots from the Monaco Rally and assembled them into a high-res gallery below.

[Source: Autosport]

  • Finnish Mikko Hirvonen steers his Ford Focus RS WRC 07, 24 January 2008 in Vernoux-en-Vivarais near Valence, south-eastern France, during a training session of the 76th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally.
  • Norwegian Petter Solberg steers his Subaru Impreza WRC 24 January 2008 in Vernoux en Vivarais near Valence, south-eastern France, during a training session of the 76th edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally.
  • Per-Gunnar Andersson and Jonas Andersson drive their Suzuki SX4, during Leg Two of the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo 2008, January 26, 2008 Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • Australian driver Chris Atkinson steers his Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 during the fourteen's stage of the Monte-Carlo Rally's 76th edition, between Lamasres and Alboussi?re, 26 January 2008 in Gilhoc, southeastern France.
  • Francois Duval and Eddy Chevalier of the Stobart VK M-Sport Fort Rally Team compete in their Ford Focus RS WRC '07, A/8 during Leg 3 of the WRC Rally of Monte Carlo on January, 27, 2008 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
  • French driver Sebastien Loeb (R) and his co-driver, Daniel Elena from Monaco celebrate after winning the 76th Monte-Carlo rally, 27 January 2008 in Monaco. Loeb won the event ahead of Finnish Mikko Hirvonen and Australian Chris Atkinson.

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