Round three of the 2012 World Rally Championship hit the Faro area of Portugal last weekend – but so did torrential rain, floods and fog. The resulting conditions were incredibly tough for the drivers and even caused cancellations of Friday’s final stages.
The appalling weather led to carnage amongst the front-runners on the opening days: Sebastian Loeb crashed out on Thursday, and both factory Ford drivers (Latvala and Solberg) went off the road and out of the lead on consecutive stages on Friday – much to the ire of the Ford team boss. Latvala was a retirement; Petter Solberg at least then put in a storming drive to come back up the order and take a podium finish.
Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen looked like he’d taken advantage of his competitors early meltdowns to take the win on the road, only to be stripped of victory and excluded from the event after scrutineering – victim of clutch and turbocharger conformity problems. Citroen are appealing, but in the meantime this has handed Ford’s Mads Ostberg his maiden WRC win and Ford a clean sweep of the podium.
Unfortunately it was another poor weekend for Mini: none of the cars made it into the top 10. However, VW’s Sebasitan Ogier continued his WRC giant-killing streak with eighth place in his S2000-class Skoda.
Final Top 5 Positions:
1: Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford Fiesta RS) 4h21m16.1s
2: Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS) +1m33.2s
3: Petter Solberg (Ford WRT Fiesta RS) +1m55.6s
4: Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar WRT Citroen DS3) +6m05.8s
5: Martin Prokop (Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS) +6m09.2s