Citroen has decided not to appeal against Mikko Hirvonen's exclusion from Rally de Portugal, it has been announced.
Hirvonen had celebrated his first win on Sunday with the French manufacturer, however, scrutineers found what they deemed to be illegal parts on his DS3 and he was therefore excluded. The official scrutineering report said 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 opted to make further investigations to determine whether then #2 car's turbo also failed the regulations.
A statement from Citroen issued today read: "Following the exclusion of the #2 Citroen DS3 WRC from the Rally de Portugal, Citroen Racing had initially stated its intention to appeal against the decision of the Stewards. Further analysis of the matter did not uncover any new technical elements. After consulting with various experts, Citroen Racing has therefore decided against pursuing the appeal with the FIA's International Court of Appeal (ICA).
"After having been notified of the decision to exclude the #2 DS3 WRC from the Rally de Portugal, the Citroen Total World Rally Team had, within the one-hour deadline stipulated by the regulations, stated its intention to appeal against the decision at the FIA's International Court of Appeal. The team then had a further 48 hours to either confirm its intention to appeal or decide against doing so.
"As further analysis of the matter and discussions with experts did not uncover any new technical elements that might have been used to alter the harsh penalty handed out by the Stewards, Citroen decided not to pursue what would have been a long and costly procedure."
“We had stated our intention to appeal in order to give us time to analyse the matter in more detail,” explained Citroen team principal. Yves Matton. “As regards the clutch, our supplier has sent us a letter of apology acknowledging the existence of a batch of parts which were different from those on the homologation documentation. This letter confirms that it was never our intention to cheat. At the same time, this situation forces us to look again at our procedures, since these parts were not picked up during our own checks.
“On the second point identified by the scrutineers, the sole supplier of turbocompressors approved by the FIA for all manufacturers, has confirmed to us the plastic expansion of the wheel turbine. Additional analysis will undoubtedly confirm that this was due to wear on the part.
“We accept this harsh penalty but are determined to learn the lessons and ensure that we will be even better in future. We still lead both World Championships, but the gaps have been reduced. We now go into the upcoming rallies more determined than ever to get back to winning ways.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile was philosophical about the situation, something that means instead of taking his first win with Citroen – and the lead in the drivers' championship, he now slips down to fourth.
“Obviously, I am very disappointed but I am not annoyed. These things happen. You have to accept them when they do, learn the necessary lessons and go again. Citroen has done a lot for me in the last few months so I stand united with the team at this difficult time. We win together, and we lose together!” Hirvonen stated.
“This incident just makes me even more determined. I can't wait to start the next rally and go competing again.”