2 APRIL 4 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2815
“The whole of Ferrari is united around me”
Felipe Massa says he will return to form this year
PLATO TIPS NEW MG TO FIGHT FOR TITLE
He had no testing, but Plato still won on MG’s debut
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French firm to battle officials as Finn’s
WRC SQUADS ARE DIVIDED OVER JOKER TYRE RULES
Citroën likes them, Ford doesn’t. Arguments ensue
BRITISH FORMULA THREE BLASTS OFF FOR 2012
MN catches up with the Britons to watch this season
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WIN! BTCC tickets for Donington 10 Historic race and rally news 13 F3/GT preview:F3’s leading Brits 20 F3/GT preview:Motorbase returns 21 F3/GT preview:Matt Griffin 22 F3/GT preview:Carlos Sainz Jr 23 Circuit of Ireland preview 24 WRC report:Portugal 28 BTCC report:Brands Hatch 32 BTCC driver rankings and supports 35 Racing reports 36 Rally reports 39 Sporting Scene round-up 40 Karting round-up 43 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 42 Letters/Comment/What’s On 44 Wanted:lower car insurance premiums. Apply:J-M Latvala
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Hirvonen won on the road but was kicked out by officials
ByDanMcCalla Citroën is to appeal Mikko Hirvonen’s exclusion from first place on Rally Portugal at the weekend for a technical infringement – a decision which handed Mads Østberg his first World Rally Championship win. Hirvonen had won a chaotic rainhit event on the road after Sébastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg all went off. However, in post-event scrutineering on Sunday night, Hirvonen’s DS3was found to be fitted with a clutch that was not the version homologated for the car, and hewas duly excluded.
The team might be hit with further punishment as the car was also fitted with an oversized turbo, something into which the FIA is to conduct further investigation.
Citroën team boss Yves Matton said: “We had no intention whatsoever to cheat and the decision appears out of proportion. Given the fact that the reported differences didn’t bring us any advantage, we’ve decided to appeal.”
Citroën’s clutch gaffe The scrutineering report found Hirvonen’s car was fitted with a clutch that did not have any holes drilled into it to lighten the part, something that was specified on the
DS3WRC’s homologation form. Although the clutch Hirvonen’s car was equipped with would have offered less performance than the homologated clutch due to being heavier, any technical infringement of this nature is penalised with an event exclusion.
The holed clutch was a new ‘joker’ part, introduced under an FIA regulation that allows each manufacturer to homologate a limited amount of extra parts outside the normal restriction.
Citroën technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon said: “The DS3 WRC’s clutch mechanisms are homologated with lightening holes. Our supplier recently provided us with a batch of parts that were not perforated and one of them was fitted to the no. two DS3. These parts don’t provide any gain in terms of performance.” On top of this issue, the turbine wheel onHirvonen’s turbocharger was above the size allowed. However, this part is supplied by Garrett to all WRCmanufacturers, not just Citroën, and so the FIA has asked for further analysis of the item before deciding if the team should face any additional sanctions. Mestelan-Pinon explained: “This difference comes from dilation, as the wheel is subject to extreme temperature and RPMfactors.”
Mads isn’t going mad Hirvonen’s exclusion meant that customer Ford driver MadsØstberg, who had finished second on the road, claimed his first world championship victory.
The young Norwegian has not been able to challenge the factory Citroën and Ford drivers on pace so far this season, but his consistent speed close to the top drivers has allowed him to capitalise on the errors of those ahead. The Portuguese win was Østberg’s fourth top-four finish in succession, and elevated him to third in the standings, just 13 points behind leader Sébastien Loeb. However, despite the upturn in form, Østberg concedes that he has work to do to win rallies regularly and fight for the title: “Our next rally is Argentina, where we did well last year, so we can keep pushing and keep fighting for podiums,” he told MotorsportNewsafter being confirmed as the rally winner. “We’ve had a good season so far, but Mikko’s exclusion doesn’t change myperformance, and so we’re still going to have to work hard.”
The 24-year-old added that he was disappointed that his first win had come as a result of Hirvonen’s misfortune: “I found out on Sunday night that I’d wonwhen I was having dinner with my friends to celebrate