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Hirvonen handed victory after Citroen punished

  • Story Highlights
  • Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen is awarded victory in the Rally Australia on Sunday
  • Finn finishes second but Citroen's three drivers are penalized by race stewards
  • Race winner Sebastien Loeb demoted to second place with Dani Sordo in third
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(CNN) -- Ford's Mikko Hirvonen was awarded victory in the Rally Australia after Citroen's three drivers were penalized by race stewards for a technical infringement.

Hirvonen is now five points clear in the World Rally Championship after being handed victory in Australia.

Hirvonen is now five points clear in the World Rally Championship after being handed victory in Australia.

On the course, Sebastian Loeb edged out the Finn, who finished 12.5 seconds back with Dani Sordo, also of Citroen, finishing third.

But Loeb, Sordo and Sebastien Ogier received one-minute penalties after their front anti-roll bars were found not to comply with regulations. The drivers were penalized and the team reprimanded after Citroen officials admitted the infringement.

The punishments saw Loeb drop a place to second below Hirvonen, while Sordo remained third and Ogier dropped from fourth to fifth.

A win for Loeb, which would have been his first since April, would have narrowed the gap at the top of the drivers' championship to a single point.

As it was, Hirvonen stretched his lead to five points after his fourth successive victory. The Finn was quoted on www.crash.net as saying: "It's a shame that after such a thrilling battle for three days the result of the rally is decided in the stewards' room.

"I suffered a points loss in Portugal two years ago, so I know how Sebastien, in particular, must feel tonight.

"This decision has a major effect on the championship standings and we now go to Spain with a five point lead."

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