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September 7, 2009

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Loeb stripped of victory

FIVE-TIME world champion Sebastien Loeb was stripped of his victory and relegated to second place in the Rally of Australia yesterday because of a technical infringement with his Citroen car.

A spokeswoman for the governing body FIA said stewards had ruled that the front anti-roll bar links on the three Citroen cars, driven by Frenchman Loeb, Spain's Dani Sordo and France's Sebastien Ogier, did not conform to the regulations.

As a result, all three drivers were handed one minute penalties.

That meant Loeb, who had won the rally by 12.5 seconds, was relegated from first to second behind Ford's championship leader Mikko Hirvonen.

Sordo remained in third place despite the penalty while Ogier dropped from fourth to fifth.

The spokeswoman said Citroen had the right to lodge an appeal.

The penalty could have a major bearing on deciding this year's championship, which has already been reduced to a battle between Loeb and Hirvonen.

Loeb would have closed the gap to just one point had the victory stood.

However, his relegation to second coupled with the Finn's promotion to first leaves Hirvonen with a five-point lead heading into the last two rallies of the season, in Spain and Britain.

Meanwhile, MotoGP leader Valentino Rossi extended his advantage over Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo by winning the San Marino Grand Prix in front of his home crowd yesterday in Misano, Italy.

World champion Rossi now is 30 points clear of the Spaniard with four races left. Lorenzo finished second with Dani Pedrosa grabbing the final spot on the podium.


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