He may have been beaten to victory on Rally Portugal by his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier, but Sebastien Loeb has now taken the lead in the Castrol EDGE Race for 2011.

The seven-time World Rally champion had a frustrating rally, his temperature soaring when Ford's Mikko Hirvonen suffered a puncture on the second day and, after stopping to change it, drove directly in front of the Frenchman.

The time Loeb lost during that stage may well have cost him a shot at victory of an event he has won twice previously, but despite this, he maintained his third spot in the Castrol EDGE Rankings and grabbed the advantage - ironically from Hirvonen - in the Race for 2011.

Four of the top six drivers in the Race for 2011 come from the WRC, and this is unsurprising as three rounds have already taken place this year. Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala and Citroen driver Ogier lie fifth and sixth.

Of more significance for Ogier was his six-place rise up the Rankings, which has hauled him up to 17th overall - just four spots shy of his all-time high position of 13th, which he achieved last October.



Portugal provided a mixed bag of results for the Ford squad. Latvala's third place was one lower than he managed in last year's corresponding event and caused him to drop two places - behind Ogier and IndyCar racer Ryan Briscoe - to 21st.

By contrast, fourth spot represented a victory of sorts for Hirvonen (above), who, in addition to his puncture, suffered broken suspension and a damaged driveshaft during the rally. His brave recovery ensured he gained five Rankings places and continued an upwards trend that has taken him from 42nd to 32nd since the start of the year.

Matthew Wilson (71) dropped a spot as the Stobart Ford driver equaled his result of fifth from the corresponding rally last year, while Kimi Raikkonen's (162) seventh spot was one better than the Ice 1 Citroen man managed at the same point in 2010. However, with others around him making bigger gains, he also lost a position.

Petter Solberg (22) suffered four punctures on the opening day and dropped well down the order. He managed to limit the damage by recovering to sixth by the end of the rally, and dropped just one spot as a result.

It should have been seventh for Petter, but his brother Henning helped him out when his Stobart Ford suffered a turbo problem on the final morning, dropping the Norwegian to ninth by the flag and leaving him rooted 108th in the Rankings.

Despite a first day retirement leading to him spending the rest of the event under SupeRally rules, Rally Sweden surprise podium man Mads Ostberg (172) still managed to jump up five spots after finishing 31st.

source: castroldriverrankings.com

photos: willy weyens - rallyworld








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