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World Rally Championship: Mads Ostberg inherits win in Rally of Portugal
Armindo Araujo of Portugal and Miguel Ramalho of Portugal compete in their WRC Team Mini Portugal Mini John Cooper Works WRC during Day4 of the WRC Rally Portugal on April 1, 2012 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)
By Dorel Tant, AIPS Member, msport1.com
ALGARVe, April 3, 2012 - There was drama in the Rally of Portugal where all WRC stars suffered along the grueling four days of the competition.

World Champion with Citroen, Sebastien Loeb, was out of the race in the first day after an error on the night stage, while main rival Jari-Matti Latvala didn't enjoy too much his lead in Portugal, his Ford Fiesta being caught out by the weather in the second day. The lead then passed to Ford team mate Petter Solberg, but the conditions forced Solberg to an error also.

Last man standing from the big names was Mikko Hirvonen for Citroen, the Finn succeeding in finishing the rally first in the standings, followed by Mads Ostberg from Norway and Russian driver Novikov. But the drama wasn't over!

Post-event scrutineering revealed that the Citroen DS3 WRC was found not in conformity with the Homologation Form and Hirvonen was excluded from the race, upon appeal.

As a result, Mads Ostberg inherits his maiden win in WRC, with Evgeny Novikov and a charging Petter Solberg making it a Ford 1-2-3 win. Dakar Rally winner in 2011, Nasser Al-Attiyah scores his best WRC finish in 4th, with Prokop and Kuipers rounding up the top 6.

Ostberg declared: "Well this is definitely not how I wanted to win my first WRC event and doesn’t really change anything. I did a good rally and was really happy with my performance by finishing second after a tough event. The next time I want to do it right and win by being on top of the podium."

In the drivers' standings, Sebastien Loeb retains the lead with 66 points, upon his team mate exclusion, followed by Petter Solberg with 62 and Portugal winner Ostebrg with 53. In the manufacturers standings, Citroen leads Ford by 12 points.

The next World Rally Championship round is scheduled in 3 weeks in Argentina.


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