Hirvonen & Citroen Excluded in Portugal

The topsy-turvy nature of the Rally Portugal's erratic weather patterns and final results last night were nothing compared to the drama that unfolded at post-event scrutineering when Mikko Hirvonen lost his victory - handing the win to Adapta Ford driver Mads Ostberg.

Hirvonen's Citroen DS3 WRC was found to contravene technical regulations, with the non-conformity of the car's clutch being cited as the reason for exclusion however, there was also a secondary problem for the factory Citroen team that centred on the turbine wheel in the DS3's turbocharger. The issue with the turbine wheel is also sufficient for exclusion but this penalty has been suspended pending further investigation and the busy stewards' decision is due imminently.

In addition to giving Ostberg a maiden World Rally Championship win, Hirvonen's exclusion from the rally elevates Evgeny Novikov to second and gives Petter Solberg a podium finish, ensuring that Sebastien Loeb, rather fortuitously, retains his point's lead - which he had looked set to lose to his new and fast-improving team-mate.

The revised results shows a sensational change of fortune for Solberg, who'd thrown his Fiesta off the road in challenging road conditions on Friday but restarted under Rally 2 regulations. "Nobody likes to see the results settled in the officials' room and I feel sorry for Mikko and Jarmo," said Solberg. "But tonight's events mean I'm now only four points from the lead of the championship and Ford has made a big leap forwards in the manufacturers' standings. I can't wait for the next round in Argentina!"

Although the circumstances are regrettable, to see Norwegian, Finnish, Belgian, Russian, Dutch, Czechoslovakian, Qatarian and French drivers feature on the top ten results sheet of a World Rally Championship event cannot be bad for international rallying!

Amended final positions (subject to appeal)
1. M Østberg/J Andersson Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 21min 16.1sec
2. E Novikov/D Giraudet Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 22min 49.3sec
3. P Solberg/C Patterson Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 23min 11.7sec
4. N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini Citroen DS3 4hr 27min 21.9sec
5. M Prokop/Z Hruza Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 27min 25.3sec
6. D Kuipers/R Buysmans Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 28min 03.4sec
7. S Ogier/J Ingrassia Skoda Fabia S2000 4hr 28min 25.1sec
8. T Neuville/N Gilsoul Citroen DS3 4hr 29min 54.0sec
9. J Ketomaa/M Stenberg Ford Fiesta RS 4hr 31min 08.9sec
10 P Van Merksteijn/E Chevaillier Citroen DS3 4hr 31min 27.1sec

2nd April, 2012