Loeb Handed Penalty, Gives Hirvonen Rally Australia Win

For the second time this season, reigning WRC champion Sebastien Loeb had to pay tribute to a technical infringement from his Citroen team and was demoted one place in the overall classification of Rally Australia. Although he finished the Aussie round on top of the WRC field, the Frenchman eventually lost out to title rival Mikko Hirvonen in the stewards' book.

"At Sunday evening's post event scrutineering, Loeb's Citroen C4 WRC was found to be fitted with a front anti-roll bar link which did not comply with the homologation form of the car," said a report that appeared on WRC's official site soon after the end of the rally.

Asked to disclose some details on the stewards' findings, the representatives from Citroen admitted to their wrongdoings, as it was clear the anti-roll bar link did not have the same structure as in the FIA homologation book. What was even more disappointing for the French manufacturer was the fact that the cars of both Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) and Dani Sordo (Citroen Total) were fitted with the same device.

As a result, both drivers were handed a one-minute penalty in the overall classification of Rally Australia. If the Spaniard managed to keep his 3rd place in the overall classification, Ogier dropped one position in the end, settling for 5th place, behind Ford's works driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

Citroen already announced they will not appeal the decision, meaning that they are now only 13 points away from Ford in the manufacturers' standings. As for Loeb, his relegation to the runner-up spot brought him some 5 points behind Hirvonen in the drivers' standings with only 2 rounds to go.

The rest of the point-scoring positions belonged to Stobart Ford's duo Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg - 6th and 7th respectively - while Federico Villagra brought Munchi's their only point of the weekend.

The next round of the 2009 World Rally Championship is scheduled for October 2nd thru 4th, in Spain.
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