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Ogier takes debut win in Portugal

30 May 2010

Citroen Junior Team's Sebastien Ogier held off Sebastien Loeb to win in Portugal today and take his first win at the top level.

Ogier took the lead on Friday morning and ended the opening leg 26.6 seconds up on Dani Sordo. The Frenchman then continued to push on Saturday and while Sebastien Loeb took over as his main rival, the 2005 Junior World Rally champion maintained his advantage and began the final day with a 21.1 second cushion.

Ogier came under severe pressure on Sunday and his lead was more than halved this morning in the first two stages. He kept his composure though and eventually came through to take the victory by 7.9 seconds.

"It's a fantastic feeling, really fantastic," said Ogier. "Sebastien Loeb is the best driver in the world and it's always difficult to conserve the lead when he is behind you. But we pushed hard for all the rally and managed to keep him behind."

Loeb meanwhile, for once, had to settle for the runners-up spot and despite being quickest in all four of the 'proper' tests today, he was unable to overhaul his compatriot.

"I tried to beat him but he was just too fast. I have a new rival now," Loeb added. "He was really strong all the weekend, especially on the second pass he was very, very fast. We couldn't make any difference today in the afternoon."

Dani Sordo completed the podium, to give Citroen a perfect 1-2-3 finish. Sordo slipped back on Saturday afternoon when he had tyre wear issues, but the Spaniard managed to get back in front of Petter Solberg this morning when the Norwegian had a steering problem in SS14 and complained that his privately-run Citroen C4 WRC felt 'very loose' and was 'difficult' to drive after SS15.

Solberg also had problems in the short event ending super special, when he hit a barrier and lost 10-15 seconds. That dropped him to fifth, with BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen inheriting P4, 14.4 seconds off second and 3.7 seconds up on 'Hollywood'.

Further down the order Britain's Matthew Wilson was sixth for the Stobart Ford Team, although he was 5.5 minutes further back. Wilson had started the leg in seventh, but gained a place when his team-mate, Henning Solberg had technical problems and was forced to retire in SS15.

Mads Ostberg took seventh in an aging Subaru Impreza WRC, with Federico Villagra, Khalid Al-Qassimi and Kimi Raikkonen in positions 8 through to 10. Raikkonen lost two spots in SS16, but the 2007 F1 world champion held on to take the final point.

In the SWRC, Jari Ketomaa, who had taken the class lead at the end of Friday, came through to comfortably secure the win in his Ford Fiesta S2000. Xavier Pons was second with Michal Kosciuszko third.

As for the JWRC, Kevin Abbring was victorious, eventually finishing more than 5 minutes up on Karl Kruuda. Aaron Burkart took the final place on the Junior podium.

In terms of retirements, in addition to Henning Solberg, Jari-Matti Latvala and Ken Block also failed to go the distance. Block crashed out in SS4 and was unable to continue as he damaged the rollcage on his Ford Focus. Latvala, who had won in NZ last time out, also crashed. He went out in the second stage on day two.

The 2010 World Rally Championship now takes a month-long break, before resuming with the inaugural Rally Bulgaria at the start of July.


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