SS9: Loeb’s fury at dust delay
After Hirvonen’s puncture
Sebastien Loeb has vented his anger at rival Mikko Hirvonen at the finish of stage nine of Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Hirvonen suffered a puncture during the stage and had to stop to fit a spare. He resumed his charge in front of Loeb who lost time running in the dust clouds created by Hirvonen’s Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Loeb switched on his windscreen wipers in an effort to see where he was going in his Citroen DS3 WRC but lost vital ground to leader, the Ford-driver Jari-Matti Latvala.
“I’m sure Sebastien is really mad but it happens, I’m sorry,” said Hirvonen, who lost almost two minutes. “We changed the tyre, the road was clear and we went.”
At the end of stage stop control Loeb nudged the bumper of Hirvonen’s car with his before telling WRC TV that Hirvonen had “destroyed” his race.
“He has a puncture and started eight seconds in front of me and didn’t let me pass to protect Latvala,” said Loeb, who is now 32.5s adrift of Latvala. “He destroyed my race. He had the puncture not me. We can play for third only. It’s finished.”
Loeb’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier was second fastest through the stage to close to within 5.6 seconds of Latvala.
“It was a hard stage,” said Latvala. “It was clear for us but there are so many rocks that you can’t take cuts. At the end of the stage I started to feel I had a puncture.”
Petter Solberg, on a charge to make up the time lost with a spate of punctures on Friday, won the stage.
Standings after SS9:
|01||J. LATVALA / M. ANTTILA||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||1h56m22.7s|
|02||S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA||Citroën DS3 WRC||+5.6s|
|03||S. LOEB / D. ELENA||Citroën DS3 WRC||+32.5s|
|04||M. HIRVONEN / J. LEHTINEN||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+2m06.5s|
|05||M. WILSON / S. MARTIN||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+3m08.9s|
|06||H. SOLBERG / I. MINOR||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+3m13.5s|
|07||A. ARAUJO / M. RAMALHO||Mini John Cooper Works S2000||+5m36.4s|
|08||K. RAIKKONEN /K. LINDSTROM||Citroën DS3 WRC||+5m51.8s|
|09||F. VILLAGRA / J. PÉREZ COMPANC||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+6m06.1s|
|10||K. AL QASSIMI / M. ORR||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+6m57.6s|
|11||H. PADDON / J. KENNARD||Subaru Impreza STI||+8m01.7s|
|12||D. KUIPERS / F. MICLOTTE||Ford Fiesta RS WRC||+8m09.2s|
|13||A. GRONDAL / V. ENGAN||Subaru Impreza STI||+10m49.8s|
|14||B. MAGALHAES / P. GRAVE||Peugeot 207 S2000||+10m54.6s|
|15||P. SOLBERG / C. PATTERSON||Citroën DS3 WRC||+11m23.3s|
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