In a sensational post-Portuguese Rally twist, officials have penalised six Ford Focuses for a technical infringement, dropping Marcus Gronholm from second to fourth thereby giving Sebastien Loeb the drivers’ series points lead.
April 2, 2007, 10.20am. It was April Fool’s day, but there was nothing prank-ish about the penalties meted out by officials after the finish of the Rally of Portugal.
Six Ford Focus WRC 2006s, including the second and third-placed cars of Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen were slapped with five-minute penalties because the shape of the rear side windows breached FIA regulations.
The penalties turned the results upside down, though they made no difference to the top placing.
Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb won the event.
The penalties, though, elevated Subaru’s Petter Solberg to second place, ahead of Dani Sordo in the second works Citroen.
The revised results have dropped Gronholm to fourth and Hirvonen to fifth, ahead of privateer Citroen driver Daniel Carlsson.
They have also moved Loeb into the drivers’ series lead – he has 38 points to Gronholm’s 37 – and Citroen has edged closer to Ford in the manufacturers’ standings with 59 points to the Blue Oval’s 67.
More from Portugal later.