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Latvala tops shakedown in Portugal

Jari-Matti Latvala posted the quickest time during the shakedown session for the fourth round of the World Rally Championship season in Portugal, although things didn't go quite according to plan for a number of drivers further down the order.

Armed with an improved engine in his Focus WRC, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi man posted a time of 3min 08.1secs through the 5.03km stage near the Algarve Stadium service park, which put him 0.1secs clear of the Citroen Xsara of Petter Solberg; the Norwegian looking to build on his podium finish last time out in Cyprus.

Latvala's Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest ahead of Matthew Wilson, Evgeny Novikov and Henning Solberg, while defending champion Sebastien Loeb was seventh, admitting afterwards that his road position wasn't likely to aid his quest to make it four wins in a row.

“We have good potential and the feeling in the car is good,” he said. “I hope we can fight for victory again but this might be the first one where we have a disadvantage to be first on the road. We have a few evolutions on the car and I hope it will improve the performance and I hope times will be better.”

Dani Sordo was eighth ahead of Mads Ostberg and Federico Villagra, while Marcus Gronholm warmed up for his return to the WRC with the twelfth quickest time.

The shakedown didn't go to plan however for Citroen Junior Team driver Conrad Rautenbach, who clipped a tree-stump and damaged his C4 WRC which is now undergoing repairs ahead of the opening Super Special stage which will kick-off proceedings on Thursday.

“It's tricky on the loose gravel and if you go offline it can be difficult,” he said. “We didn't start well in shakedown but I made a silly mistake pushing too hard. It's not a big problem I don't think and I have lots of faith that the guys will fix the car like new again.”

Shakedown also didn't go to plan for local driver Bernardo Sousa, who is faced with the prospect of missing the event following an accident in his Super 2000 Abarth Grande Punto.

Having hit a rock and damaged a steering arm, he went off the road into a gravel bank with co-driver Jorge Carvalho being taken to hospital afterwards.

“I'm okay, but Jorge has gone to hospital for checks because he has some pain in his shoulder,” Sousa told the WRC website. “The car is badly damaged and as far as this rally goes, it looks bad. Even if they can fix it, I won't compete if Jorge can't do it with me. It's so disappointing. This event has been full of bad luck for me, we even broke down on the recce.”

Patrik Sandell was the quickest of the PWRC runners with the 14th quickest time.

Rally Portugal – Shakedown times (top 15):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 03min 08.1secs M
2. Petter Solberg PS WRT Citroen Xsara WRC 03min 08.2secs A8
3. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 03min 10.5secs M
4. Matthew Wilson Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC 03min 11.9secs MT
5. Evgeny Novikov Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 03min 12.2secs MT
6. Henning Solberg Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC 03min 12.4secs MT
7. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 03min 13.1secs M
8. Daniel Sordo Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 03min 13.3secs M
9. Mads Ostberg Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC2008 03min 13.6secs A8
10. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford Focus WRC 03min 13.7secs MT
11. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 03min 14.0secs A8
12. Marcus Gronholm Prodrive Subaru Impreza WRC2008 03min 17.0secs A8
13. Khalid Al Qassimi BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 03min 19.4secs A8
14. Patrik Sandell Skoda Fabia S2000 03min 24.9secs P
15. Jarkko Nikara Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 03min 27.9secs N4


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Antilla (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Antilla (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Eric Camilli (FRA) Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Michel Fabre (FRA) Maxine Vilmot (FRA) Citroen DS3 R3T
Eric Camilli (FRA) Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC

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Johan - Unregistered

April 02, 2009 6:06 PM

Marcus is the favorite driver of many including me, only not for victory with this car and not beeing in the heat of battle for 18 months. I Hope he will enjoy it so much he will return permanently, and in a top car. Don't forget he was the only one who was as fast or faster as Loeb, exept for tarmac rally's.



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