Crashes and penalties.jpg

Crashes and penalties

By: Louise Pimm

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FOR THE first time since 2001, Portugal hosted a FIA World Rally Championship round. However, organisers have been fined 37,500 euros by FIA after five people were injured when Portuguese driver Armindo Araújo’s Mitsubishi left the track. Even so, drivers and spectators enjoyed the rally, believing it to be a welcome return.

Loeb finished ahead of Marcus Grönholm, the rally’s early leader. “We took the wrong tyre. It’s not so good, but this is life,” Grönholm told the press at the end of day two.

Mikko Hirvonen and Petter Solberg spent the rally locked in a battle for third place. Speaking to the press, Solberg said: “It’s been very difficult to keep the tyres in good condition. I had to back off a bit. My plan is to catch Mikko.”

Mikko, however, was determined to defend his position and, speaking to The Resident on day four about the rally itself, said: “It’s fantastic, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

At the end of the final event, a second Super Special stage, Hirvonen edged out Solberg to end the weekend on the final podium position. Loeb won his 31st rally of his career with Grönholm second.

However, rally officials awarded a five minute penalty to six Ford drivers after technical scrutineering, meaning Grönholm was demoted from second to fourth and Hirvonen from third to fifth, leaving Petter Solberg in second and Spaniard Dani Sordo third.

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