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GP Week : Issue 147
SENSATION IN DRAMATIC WRC ROUND HIRVONEN EXCLUDED – OSTBERG TAKES PORTUGAL WIN More than seven hours after the finish of an extraordinary Rally of Portugal came the final twist of fortune – the event stewards ordered that the Citroen DS3WRC of the winner Mikko Hirvonen should be excluded from the results, following findings that the clutch mechanism had been illegally modified, and as a result of unease that the size of the turbo compressor was fractionally oversize. The consequence was that the new winner is the customer Ford driver Mads Ostberg (right), who was running on this occasion as a non-championship private driver. Ford cars thus finished 1-2 -3 and five Fiesta WRC cars finished in the top six. Other officially prepared Citroen DS3 WRC cars, driven by NasserAl Attiyah and Thierry Neuville, which now finished fourth and eighth, were not inspected and their results stand. The dramatic end to Hirvonen’s hopes of victory followed growing tension during the event, after complaints against the top three Ford cars of Ostberg, Evgeniy Novikov and Petter Solberg that they had been allowed to run with damage to the undercar protection. In the case of Solberg, this meant that a spare wheel was dislodged from the car. Having expressed their safety concerns over this issue, the Stewards took no further action. Ostberg’s victory was an amazing triumph for the popular 24 year-old Nor wegian, whose rallying is funded by family business and local concerns. It came after worrying moments on the final day when electrical troubles caused misfiring: “We have no idea what caused this” , Mads explained, “The team changed absolutely everything they could – and happily the problem was cured.” His car is one of the oldest Fiesta WRCs still running, and this was the 14th world championship rally it has contested. Most of the active life of the M-Sport built car has been in the hands of the American Ken Block. Ostberg has been registered for some world championship rallies in the name of the Adapta World Rally Team, but an early decision was taken to avoid the commitment to compete in Portugal in order to buy time to make financial plans to compete on a more formal basis later in the year. Having had to miss the opening round, Monte Carlo, Ostberg is now hoping to compete on all the remaining events, except for New Zealand. 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: WRC >>> news