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2012-04-04 07:25

PREMATURE CELEBRATION: Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen (right) and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen celebrate their 2012 Portugal WRC leg victory in a Citroen DS3... but then came exclusion from the event. Image: AFP


PARIS, France - Citroen has dropped its plans for an appeal that would, if successful, have seen its eight-times World rally champion Sebastien Loeb lose the overall championship lead to team mate Mikko Hirvonen.

The decision not to contest a stewards' decision to strip Hirvonen of his first win for the team (in Portugal the previous weekend) meant Norwegian Ford driver Mads Ostberg could finally celebrate his maiden victory in the World championship.


The automaker said in a released statement: "Citroen Racing initially stated its intention to appeal against the decision of the stewards. Further analysis of the matter did not uncover any new technical elements. After consulting with various experts, Citroen Racing has decided against pursuing the appeal with the FIA's International Court of Appeal."

Hirvonen finished first in Portugal on Sunday, the 25 points sending him nine points clear of Frenchman Loeb who had crashed out on the first day. However the Finn was then excluded from the classification when his car failed post-event scrutineering and Ostberg was promoted to first.

Russian Evgeny Novikov was second, Norway's Petter Solberg third - making the result a Ford 1-2-3.

The exclusion meant Loeb stayed on top, four points clear of Solberg.

2011 champion team Citroen said it would appeal, leaving the results provisional, with 48 hours for the team to confirm a move that would probably have been long and expensive.


Team principal Yves Matton said: "We had stated our intention to appeal to give us time to analyse the matter in more detail. As regards the clutch, our supplier has sent us a letter of apology acknowledging the existence of a batch of parts different from those on the homologation documentation.

"This letter confirms it was never our intention to cheat. At the same time, this situation forces us to look again at our procedures, since the parts were not picked up during our own checks."

Hirvonen, who drove for Ford in 2011, said he was disappointed but not angry. "These things happen," he conceded. "You have to accept them, learn the lessons, and go again. Citroen has done a lot for me in the last few months so I stand united with the team at this difficult time."

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