2 April 2012
Hirvonen exclusion hands victory to Ostberg
Mikko Hirvonen has been excluded from the results of the Rally de Portugal after stewards found irregularities with his Citroen DS3 WRC, handing victory to Mads Ostberg.
The result of the Vodafone Rally de Portugal was turned on its head shortly after Mikko Hirvonen began celebrating his first win for Citroen, when scrutineers found what they deemed to be illegal parts on his DS3.
As a result of the discovery, the Finn was thrown out of the results, handing a first WRC victory to Ford privateer Mads Ostberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson.
The official scrutineering report claimed that Hirvonen's clutch was 'not in conformity with the Homologation Form A5733', and that was not the only irregularity found during the usual post-event checks, although the stewards have decided to make further investigations to determine whether then #2 car's turbo also failed the regulations.
"The scrutineers found differences with both the clutch and the turbocharger," Citroen Racing technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon confirmed, as the French team confirnmed its intention to appeal the exclusion.
"The clutch mechanisms of the DS3 WRC are registered with lightening holes, but our supplier recently delivered a lot of these pieces without holes and one of them was mounted on the #2 car. The differences provide no performance gain, since they are heavier than those that were licensed.
"With regard to the turbo, which is a standard piece for all World Rally Cars, the extent of the turbine was reported to exceed the maximum allowed, but this measurement reflects the expansion of the turbine a result of temperatures and very high speeds."
The team's racing director, Yves Matton, claimed that the penalty handed down to Hirvonen, who finally had the chance to better wortld champion team-mate Sebastien Loeb, was out of proportion to the crime committed.
"Our intention was not to cheat and, given that the points raised [by the scrutineers] do not benefit us, we have decided to appeal their decision," he commented.
"I feel especially sorry for Mikko and [co-driver] Jarmo Lehtinen, who produced a perfect performance on a particularly difficult rally. They deserved this first victory with us and I can only apologise on behalf of the entire team. I hope that they will have the opportunity to get back on the top step of the podium very soon."
The surprising result also benefited Evgeny Novikov and Petter Solberg, who are promoted to second and third overall respectively, and has naturally reduced Citroen's advantage over its rivals in the two championships. Loeb remains at the head of the individual standings, but now enjoy a lead of just four points over Solberg, while Citroen's lead in the manufacturers' table is down to a dozen points over Ford.
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