Ogier pips Loeb in Portuguese shakedown

Sébastien Ogier continues to edge team-mate Sébastien Loeb for outright pace in the 2011 World Rally Championship, as Citroën lock out the top three on the shakedown for this weekend's Rally Portugal - and Ken Block goes for a roll
Just as he did in Mexico three weeks ago, Citroën Total World Rally Team star Sébastien Ogier paced the shakedown for this weekend's Rally Portugal, the third round on the 2011 World Rally Championship calendar – as an accident for Ken Block left the American and his co-driver in hospital.

In warm and sunny conditions close to the rally's base of Faro, Ogier – who claimed his maiden WRC triumph in Portugal ten months ago, driving for the Citroën Junior Team – pipped countryman and namesake Sébastien Loeb to the top of the order by a single tenth of a second over the 5km Vale de Judeau practice stage in his DS3 WRC.

“Everything was okay and we are happy with the performance,” reported the man who crashed out of the lead of Rally Mexico on the final day, handing victory to Loeb. “We did not make any major changes to the set-up of the car, just some small details.”

Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team ace and Crash.net columnist Jari-Mati Latvala wound up third – a further two tenths adrift – with former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg fourth in his privately-entered Citroën, Rally Sweden hero Mads Østberg fifth in the best of the M-Sport Stobart Fiestas and Mikko Hirvonen sixth. Henning Solberg – whose own Fiesta is differently-liveried for the event in deference to his new sponsor Ludo Mobil – team-mate Matthew Wilson, WRC returnee Kimi Raikkonen and Federico Villagra rounded out the top ten.

The main drama, however, was provided by Block, who along with co-driver Alex Gelsomino was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after clipping a rock and rolling their Fiesta over a bank in what was quite literally a stage-stopping shunt as the car ended up six metres away from the road. A Monster World Rally Team spokesperson has confirmed that both men are happily okay.

Also notable during the shakedown was the WRC debut of MINI's Super 2000-spec John Cooper Works in the hands of reigning two-time Production World Rally Champion Armindo Araújo and Brazil World Rally Team's Daniel Oliveira, with the latter going off but fortunately not incurring any damage. Araújo was 13th, just over ten seconds off the pace.

The action proper will begin in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon on Thursday afternoon.

Rally Portugal Shakedown times – Top Ten:

1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3min 08.5secs
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3min 08.6secs
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC 3min 08.8secs
4. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC 3min 09.2secs
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 09.6secs
6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC 3min 10.8secs
7. Henning Solberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 11.6secs
8. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 14.8secs
9. Kimi Raikkonen ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC 3min 15.1secs
10. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3min 15.6secs

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ken Block (USA) Alex Gelsomino (USA), Ford Fiesta WRC, Monster World Rally Team
Ken Block (USA) Alex Gelsomino (USA), Ford Fiesta WRC, Monster World Rally Team
Petter Solberg (NOR) Chris Patterson (GBR), Citroen DS3 WRC, Petter Solberg Rallying
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson, PSWRT, Citroën DS3 WRC, Rally Mexico, 2011
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroen DS3 WRC, Citroen Total World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - 1st place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team, 2nd place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Fabio Andolfi (ITA) Manuel Fenoli (ITA) HYUNDAI i20 R5, ACI TEAM ITALIA
21.05.2017 - Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)-Anders Jaeger (NOR) SKODA FABIA R5, SKODA MOTORSPORT
21.05.2017 - Valeriy Gorban (UKR)-Sergei Larens (EST) BMW‐Mini John Cooper Works, Eurolamp World Rally Team
21.05.2017 - Martin Prokop (CZE) - Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta RS WRC, ONEBET JIPOCAR WORLD RALLY TEAM

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Observer - Unregistered

March 24, 2011 1:22 PM

@Craig. I wouldn't put Matt in the same league as Block. I might be wrong here and please correct me if I am, but Matts drive is mostly financed by M-Sport and Stobart. So he is financed by the teams sponsors who would sponsor the team regardless of the drivers name. If this is correct then IMO he's taking up a seat that should be given to someone more capable. Block and Raikkonen are backed by sponsors, that sponsor the drivers themselves and would not sponsor the teams without those drivers. On another note even if Matt did finance his on drive, Block and Raikkonen bring visibility and interest to WRC regardless of their success, whereas Matt brings nothing more than one more also ran on the time sheets.

RacerX1 - Unregistered

March 24, 2011 12:36 AM

@Craig: The issue is more fundamental than that - by virtue of the fact that monster energy drink funds this fool someone else is denied the opportunity. Second, what does funding have to do with talent? With some exceptions, very little. In stead of wasting millions on him, I would allocate those resources to an effort to recruit and cultivate REAL genius (ie. Ogier). @John: Raikkonen would destroy those clowns on any tarmac based racing series. A severe learning curve is to be expected from Raikkonen anyway. Block(head) and Wilson are supposed to be rally drivers, or at least rally-bred. If you put Block in an F1 he would look even more incompetent than he does now.

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