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2012-03-31 22:49

HAIRPIN CHEERS: Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen in their Citroen DS3 earn the crowd's cheers on Sunday during Stage 3 of the 2012 Portugal Rally near Almodovar. image: AFP

ALMODOVAR, Portugal - Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen led the Rally of Portugal after Saturday's stages while Petter Solberg climbed up the leader board with four wins after crashing the previous day.

Finn Hirvonen has an advantage of 1min11.9 seconds over Ford driver Mads Ostberg of Norway, with Russian Evgeny Novikov in third going into Sunday, the final day.

Ford's Solberg, who went off the road in heavy rain and got stuck in a ditch while leading on Friday, restarted with a 10-minute time penalty.


He reached as high as fourth overall but dropped to fifth after his Fiesta suffered a power-steering failure on stage 16, the final one of the day.

"I've got no power steering," the Norwegian told the World Rally championship website. "It happened just before the stage."

Solberg slipped behind Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah in the overall classification, 6min26.5 behind Hirvonen.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala, who also got stuck in a ditch on Friday while leading, fared less well. Starting the day with a 15-minute penalty, a fuel pressure problem on stage 14 cost Latvala more than 12 minutes.


The Finn managed to finish the stage but is 18th overall, 22min27 off the pace.

Citroen's eight-times World champion Sebastien Loeb, leading the Drivers' championship standings, retired from the event after crashing on the opening day.

Loeb has 66 points; Hirvonen has 50 and Solberg 47.

Third leg classification from the 2012 Rally of Portugal on Saturday
1 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen 2hr59min33.6
2 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford +1min11.9
3 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford 1min41.2
4 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Citroen 6min10.1
5 Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford 6min26.5
6 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford 6min47.5
7 Dennis Kuipers (Netherlands) Ford 7min29.8
8 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda 8min00.2
9 Peter van Merksteijn (Netherlands) Ford 8min38.7
10 Jari Ketomaa (Finland) Ford 11min36.7


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