What a fantastic rally we had here in Portugal. Hot and Dusty, and so was the battle for the rally up untill the final two stages on saturday, then it was a cruise to the end for Sebastien Ogier. Winning Rally Portuga for the second time.
As always the event was full of adventure, but out on the stages the crews had a real battle, Petter Solberg Dropped out of contention after he had 4 punctures, and with the rule that you have to make it back to service on all 4 wheels he retired before the end of the last stage. The Fords did a great job on the opening day to finish 1st and 2nd.
On saturday it was a battle between Citroen and Ford, but on the final two stages, disaster struck for the Ford crews. First Jari-Matti with a broken rear drive shaft, then on the final stage he had a puncture and was past on stage by his team mate Mikko Hirvonen, who then dropped time on mid way through stage with broken suspension and Latvala had to re-pass him back on the same stage. Handing Citroens the top two places.
On Sunday, because of such large gaps between the positions, most just took it steady and saved them selfs and the cars for the final ‘Power Stage’, Which was first run as the 2nd stage of the morning, and the drivers found the 31Km long stage very tricky in places. The final day was all about the Power stage, and who could take thoughs bouns points for the drivers championship. Loeb said in the morning that he wouldn’t risk his 2nd place and would just drive to the finish. But clearly once that helmet was on and the 31km Santana de serra stared at him on the start line, he went for it. Watching from the big screen in the service park, You could tell he was really pushing to bag thoughs points. As many fans kept moving between the big screen and the timing screen in the service Park to see who was leading. Loeb comes through to beat Fords Jari-Matti by 1.7 seconds to claim the 3 bouns points, which could prove to be the deciding factor to the championship on the final rally of the year.
But the Glory of the Rally went to the younger frenchman of Sebastien Ogier, to take his 3rd WRC win. Meaning that we have had 3 different winners on the 3 rounds of the 2011 championship. Ogier also took 3rd on the power stage to grab that last bouns point for the championship. Overall that means Both Hirvonen and Loeb are on equal points of 58, thanks to the bouns points Loeb took this weekend, and the bouns points Hirvonen got from winning the Mexican Power stage. And ford still hold the Manufactures Championship by 10 points.
Down in the PWRC, Hayden Paddon took the win on his 2011 debut in his symtech racing prepared Subaru. And by a massive margin due to others having problems.
So the battle for top dog in the Citroen team is still on, Ogier did his Portugal magic, Fords still with car problems, Paddon takes his first win and i’m covered in gravel. What will the rest of the season bring…
Results Of Rally portugal
2nd S.Loeb +31.8
3rd J-M.Latvala +3:22.1
4th M.Hirvonen +6:16.3
5th M.Wilson +7:48.5
6th P.Solberg +10:17.4
7th K.Raikkonen +10:54.1
8th f.Villagra +11:38.8
9th H.Solberg +14:16.4
10th D.Kuipers +17:54.6