hirvoenenFord driver Mikko Hirvonen has extended his lead in the World Rally Championship after a stewards’ decision demoted Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb to second place, almost six hours after the official finish of Repco Rally Australia yesterday.

Loeb had been declared the winner, but last night the stewards imposed a one-minute penalty on the time of the 1# Citroen after finding it had front suspension parts that did not comply with the homologation records for the car.

They imposed the same penalty on the Citroen C4 WRCs of teammate Dani Sordo and Citroen Junior team driver Sebastien Ogier after the team verified they also had the same parts, described as front anti-roll bar links that were longer and required additional notches.

The Citroen team did not appeal the decision.

The decision had the effect of reversing the original 1-2 finishing positions and, instead of Hirvonen leading Loeb by one point in the Drivers’ standing, he now has a five-point break with just two rounds remaining in the 2009 FIA WRC.

Sordo remains in third, but Ogier surrendered fourth place to Hirvonen’s BP Ford Abu Dhabi teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.

REPCO RALLY AUSTRALIA RESULTS Finish
Pos Driver/car                                     Time + diff to first
1. Mikko Hirvonen, Ford                    2h:53m:06.5s
2. Sebastien Loeb, Citroen              +47.5 sec.  
3. Dani Sordo, Citroen                       +1:04.6
4. Jari-Matti Latvala, Ford                  +1:52.0
5. Sebastien Ogier, Citroen                 +2:23.3
6. Matthew Wilson, Ford                    +5:38.8s
7. Henning Solberg, Ford                   +7:30.3s
8. Federico Villagra, Ford                   +7:51.9s
9. Hayden Paddon, Mitsubishi           +15:48.6s
10. Martin Prokop, Mitsubishi            +15:57.2s

WRC CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Hirvonen         78
Loeb                73
Sordo              50
Latvala            36
H. Solberg       29       
P. Solberg        25
Wilson             23
Ogier               20
Villagra           15
Rautenbach     8

P-WRC
1. Martin Prokop, Mitsubishi              3h:08m:51.2s
2. Richard Mason, Subaru                  +42.2s
3. Cody Crocker (AUS), Subaru        +53.1s
4. Armindo Araujo, Mitsubishi           +4:08.1s         
5. Stewart Taylor, Mitsubishi              +5:39.2s