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2012-04-02 10:35

MAKING A SPLASH: Mikko Hirvonen on his way to winning the 2012 Portugal Rally - from which he was later disqualified. Image: AFP

Faro, Portugal - Mikko Hirvonen has been stripped of his Rally of Portugal win on Sunday because the clutch on his factory Citroen was deemed illegal.

The Citroen team is to appeal.

Ford's Mads Ostberg is now celebrating his first WRC win - all of it by default through crashes and Hirvonen's disqualification.


Hirvonen, runner-up in the 2011 World championship, had been celebrating his first win as a Citroen driver, and 15th overall in his career, after finishing 1min51.8 ahead of Ostberg. The win had also put the Finn on top of the overall championship standings.

However stewards later deemed the car's clutch to have breached technical regulations and excluded Hirvonen from the race classification.

A Citroen spokesman said the team recognised the infringement but that the punishment was "disproportionate" and, as a result, they would appeal.

The decision also meant that World champion Sebastien Loeb, Hirvonen's team mate at Citroen, goes back to having the overall lead in the championship despite not finishing the race.

Loeb has a four-point lead over Petter Solberg and a 16-point advantage over Hirvonen.

Ostberg, 24, was sixth in the championship in 2011, having claimed a modest two podium places.

Russia's Evgeny Novikov, who was third originally in Portugal on Sunday, was promoted to second place in the race standings with fellow Ford Fiesta driver Solberg, the 2003 world champion, taking third spot.

Solberg had finished 3min47.4 Hirvonen while Ford factory team mate Jari-Matti Latvala fell foul of Friday's treacherous muddy and foggy conditions.

Revised provisional result from the 2012 Rally of Portugal
1 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford 4hr21:16.1
2 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford +1min33.2
3 Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford 1min55.6
4 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Citroen 6min05.8
5 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford 6min09.2
6 Dennis Kuipers (Netherlands) Ford 6min47.3
7 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda 7min09.0
8 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen 8min37.9
9 Jari Ketomaa (Finland) Ford 9min52.8
10 Peter van Merksteijn Jr (Netherlands) Ford 10min11.0

Finland's Mikko Hirvonen finished first but was stripped of victory after post-event scrutineering.

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