As the dust settled in Australia, Sebastien Loeb claimed victory in Rally Australia, unfortunately for the reigning champion the victory was to be shortly celebrated.
In a suprise development the Citroen‘s of Sebatien Loeb, Dani Sordo, Sebastien Ogier were all handed a 1 minute penalty after stewards discovered the C4s to be fitted with a front anti-roll bar link which did not comply with the homologation for of the car.
“The stewards received a post-event scrutineering report from the FIA technical delegate which stated that the front anti roll bar link of car no.1 did not comply with the homologation form of the car,” said a statement from the officials.
Representatives from the Citroen Total World Rally Team agreed with the stewards after being shown the original homologation photograph, with the outcome a one-minute penalty.
The Citroen team are not appealing against the decision, which means the amended results are now final.
The penalties move Hirvonen ahead of Loeb in the results and mean his championship lead increases by five points to a thirteen point lead.
Loeb told of his disappointment saying “I am obviously disappointed, but you’ve got to accept it when the regulations are applied,” he said.
“Instead of being just one point behind Mikko Hirvonen, I now have a five-point deficit to make up. That clearly complicates matters regarding our bid to win a sixth title, but this won’t have any effect on our determination to win in Spain.”
Hirvonen was gracious and said he would of preferred to have won on the course rather than due to a penalty.
“It’s a shame that after such a thrilling battle for three days the result of the rally is decided in the stewards’ room,” he said. “I suffered a points loss in Portugal two years ago, so I know how Sebastien, in particular, must feel tonight.”
Amended Rally Australia top 10:
1. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC 2hr 53mins 06.5secs 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 47.5secs* 3. Dani Sordo Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +01mins 04.6secs* 4. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +01mins 52.0secs 5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +02mins 23.3secs* 6. Matthew Wilson Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +05mins 26.3secs 7. Henning Solberg S tobart VK Ford Focus WRC +07mins 17.8secs 8. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford Focus RS WRC +07mins 39.4secs 9. Hayden Paddon Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +15mins 36.1secs 10. Martin Prokop Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +15mins 44.7secs * Denotes 1 minute penatly