Ford Fiestas claim podium clean sweep in Rally de Portugal

Ford claimed a 1-2-3 finish with the Fiesta RS World Rally Car in Rallye de Portugal following a late-night decision to exclude winners Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen for a technical infringement on their car.The decision means Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson claimed their maiden FIA World Rally Championship victory in this fourth round of the season.  Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet were promoted to second, while Ford World Rally Team’s Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson took third.Solberg now lies second in the drivers’ standings, just four points from the lead, after a remarkable recovery in Portugal.  The 37-year-old Norwegian slipped to 13th, almost seven minutes adrift of the podium, after sliding into a ditch early in the second leg of this four-day event.Ford World Rally Team remains second in the manufacturers’ standings but has narrowed the gap at the top to just 12 points.Hirvonen was excluded by the rally stewards following a report from the FIA technical delegate which stated his car’s clutch did not comply with the homologation form.  The report also stated that the turbine wheel in the car’s turbocharger exceeded the maximum authorised diameter.  A decision on this was suspended to allow the FIA technical delegate to carry out further examinations.  Hirvonen’s Citroen team appealed the exclusion and the results remain provisional pending the outcome.“Nobody likes to see the results settled in the officials’ room and I feel sorry for Mikko and Jarmo,” said Solberg.  “But tonight’s events mean I’m now only four points from the lead of the championship and Ford has made a big leap forwards in the manufacturers’ standings.  I can’t wait for the next round in Argentina!”  Amended final positions (subject to appeal)1.  M Østberg/J Andersson               NOR             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 21min 16.1sec2.  E Novikov/D Giraudet                RUS             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 22min 49.3sec3.  P Solberg/C Patterson               NOR             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 23min 11.7sec4.  N Al Attiyah/G Bernacchini          QAT             Citroen DS3             4hr 27min 21.9sec5.  M Prokop/Z Hrůza                    CZE             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 27min 25.3sec6.  D Kuipers/R Buysmans                NED             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 28min 03.4sec7.  S Ogier/J Ingrassia                 FRA             Skoda Fabia S2000       4hr 28min 25.1sec8.  T Neuville/N Gilsoul                BEL             Citroen DS3             4hr 29min 54.0sec9.  J Ketomaa/M Stenberg                FIN             Ford Fiesta RS  4hr 31min 08.9sec10 P Van Merksteijn/E Chevaillier       NED             Citroen DS3             4hr 31min 27.1secDrivers                                          1.  S Loeb                      66pts                   2.  P Solberg                   62pts                   3.  M Østberg                    53pts                   4.  M Hirvonen                  50pts                   5.  E Novikov             39pts                   6.  J-M Latvala           28pts           Manufacturers1.  Citroen Total WRT              108pts2.  Ford WRT                     96pts3.  M-Sport Ford WRT             69pts4.  Qatar WRT                    31pts5.  Mini WRT                     26pts6.  Citroen Junior WRT   18pts