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2009 Rally Ireland : WRC Round 1 of 12 : 30th January - 1st February

In this issue:
1. Final Unofficial Leaderboard
2. Final News
3. Event Links
4. Final Team by Team News
5. Championship Points
6. Next Event
7. Subscription Information

1. Final Unofficial Leaderboard

1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 48min 25.7sec
2. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 49min 53.6sec
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 50min 33.5sec
4. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 2hr 54min 58.1sec
5. C Atkinson/S Prévot AUS Citroen C4 2hr 56min 17.6sec
6. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 2hr 59min 09.7sec
7. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 59min 49.5sec
8. K Al Qassimi/M Orr UAE Ford Focus RS 3hr 02min 33.6sec
9. E Boland/D Morrissey IRL Subaru Impreza 3hr 03min 49.1sec
10 U Aava/K Sikk EST Ford Focus RS 3hr 04min 01.1sec

2. Final News
After claiming the lead on the first afternoon, Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) was never headed and led home team-mate Dani Sordo by 1min 27.9sec, despite a scare on the penultimate stage when he briefly slid off the road. Behind Hirvonen (3rd) Chris Atkinson (Citroen) passed Stobart driver Henning Solberg (Ford) for fourth on this morning's opening stage. But the Australian slipped off the road for a minute in the penultimate test and allowed Solberg to regain the place. The top six was rounded off by 2008 JWRC champion Sébastien Ogier (Citroen). There were no major retirements today.

4. Team by Team News
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished third on the opening round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Ireland today. The Finns, driving a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, overcame treacherous conditions after more than 48 hours of incessant rain flooded Rally Ireland's speed tests. It was the pair's 10th podium from the last 12 rallies.
#3 : Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "This is the more difficult of the two asphalt events in the calendar and six points is a good start to the year. I'm pleased with that but would have been even happier with more. Conditions were quite extreme with so much water during the opening two days. Today there wasn't so much water, but it was just as slippery because the roads were muddy instead of just wet. It's a shame about our power steering problem because it meant I couldn't fight with Dani to the end."
#4 : Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "I felt I let the team down on Friday because I came here to get good points and I only scored a few. But the past is the past, and I hope I have learned from it and don't get so excited when I'm leading in the future. This weekend was a good experience in difficult conditions and two points is better than none. After my accident I concentrated on driving cautiously but it's hard to generate the same kind of feeling in those circumstances."
#19 : Khalid Al Qassimi/Michael Orr: "I've been pushing hard all week and to score my first point in such a difficult rally gives me a lot of confidence. We're trying to put Abu Dhabi on the rally map and being the first United Arab Emirates driver to score a WRC point has always been one of the goals. I'm happy I've been able to keep progressing and justify the faith shown in me. Hopefully I'll win more points before the end of the season."

Citroen Total World Rally Team
Citroën C4 WRC crews Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti repeated their result on the 2007 Rally Ireland with another one-two finish today in Sligo. The former succeeded in taking control after the opening loop on Friday morning before gradually pulling clear of their chasers, while the five-time World Champions' Spanish team-mates tucked into their wake to hand Citroën a maximum points haul in the Manufacturers World Rally Championship.
#1 : Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "Don't get me
wrong; this weekend's win was no stroll. Given the delicate conditions, it was essential to have a car
that was easy to drive and my C4 WRC was perfect from start to finish. Today's victory was obviously
the best way possible to kick off this year's championship."
#2 : Daniel Sordo/Marc Marti: "I'm very happy because coming second means that Citroën leaves Ireland with maximum
Manufacturers' points, and it was great to have a perfectly trouble-free run, too. The conditions were
very difficult, and going the full distance without making any mistakes was a challenge in itself! This
result is a terrific confidence booster for the rest of the season"

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team secured a superb triple points haul at the opening round of the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Ireland.
The Cumbria-based team led the rally on the first day before seeing all three of its Ford Focus RS WRCs go on to bag top ten slots, and finished as the leading manufacturer team after a supremely tough event.
#5: Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk: "I'm very happy that we were able to lead a WRC event and get points for the team in our first event with them. This rally has been very important to us because we got a lot of time in the car, which we are still learning about, and this gave us good experience. The car went very well and we had no problems at all with it. One mistake cost us a lot of time but apart from that the rest of the weekend was good."
#6 : Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "This is a big result for me. I worked really hard for this and it has been one of my best ever rallies. I used my head and did everything right, it's a good feeling. The weather was very bad and that made the roads very difficult, but we made no mistakes and we have proved we can be fast on tarmac now. We had a good fight with Chris on the last day which was exciting for the fans. I'm happy to have got through it and get the points for the Stobart team."
#16 : Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin: "It was a good clean run with no major problems in what were some of the worst conditions I've seen. The stages here in Ireland are great and I really started to enjoy them on the last day when they began to dry up. The fans here have also been brilliant all weekend. I'm happy to take points away from the first round of the season, which I've never done before, so it's a good start."

Citroen Junior Team
With two cars placed in the top six of the Rally Ireland, the Citroen Junior Team has made a successful debut on the World Rally Championship. On their first rally with a Citroen C4 WRC, Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot have finished fifth. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were right behind them in sixth. Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt score a point for the manufacturers championship.
#7 : Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot: "Fourth place would have been a
good result but I'm not going to be disappointed by a top five placing on such a difficult event. I was
still learning the Citroen C4 WRC on this rally. The car was quick and reliable, and the Citroen Junior
Team helped me to make a lot of progress with it. I hope to drive the car again very soon!"
#8: Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt: "I just concentrated on my driving in order to try not to make any mistakes. We're going to
work with the team now to make the car a little more comfortable for me and give me a bit more
#11: Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia: "We discovered a completely new environment, a brand new rally, and coped
with horrendous conditions running behind the top drivers. Every rally we finish is a mine of
information for us. It's a huge satisfaction for us to get to the finish and score some points."

5. Championship Points
Championship points are available here:

6. Next Event
The championship moves to Norway later this month for the only true winter rally of the season. Rally Norway (12 - 15 February) is based in Hamar with the speed tests held on snow and ice.