Sebastien Loeb admits that the result of Rally Portugal has shown that the fight for the 2011 WRC title is going to be 'closely-fought' after he moved level on points with championship leader Mikko Hirvonen.
Loeb was forced to settle for second behind Citroen
team-mate Sebastien Ogier
after losing time in dust thrown up by Hirvonen's Ford on the second day when the Finn stopped to change a puncture, which dropped him too far behind his fellow Frenchman in the fight for victory.
Loeb was however able to pick up three bonus points for winning the Power Stage to add to the 18 he secured for taking second place and is now level in the championship with Hirvonen – admitting afterwards that the extra points could prove crucial at the end of the season.
“Our victory hopes were dashed yesterday when we lost thirty seconds in the dust thrown up by Mikko's car,” he said at the finish. “Second was the best we could hope for. I knew it wouldn't be easy to score the three bonus points in the Power Stage - but we did!
“It's a positive result for us and for the whole team. These points will be very precious as the championship looks like being a very closely-fought one.”