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Without the great Sebastien Loeb to keep him honest, Sebastien Ogier seems to be dominating the World Rally Championship (WRC) by winning his third event in a row, this time in Rally Portugal. He and his VW Polo R WRC has now won three of the last four rounds, only coming in second to Loeb in the one round he didn’t manage to win (Rallye Monte-Carlo).

Unlike in Sweden and Mexico, Ogier’s latest win was far from an easy one, having to defend against two strong challenges for victory from M-Sport’s Mads Ostberg and Dani Sordo of Citroën. The former crashed out from the lead early on while Sordo stayed strong before damaging the rear of his DS3 WRC while in close pursuit of Ogier.

The eventual winner had a technical scare of his own too – a slipping clutch issue severely affected his progress on Sunday morning. Fortunately enough the problem faded away for Ogier to take a commanding win over Citroën’s Mikko Hirvonen, who inherited the place after Jari-Matti Latvala’s Polo R WRC suffered its own technical glitch and lost time.

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The second VW driver ended up third to register his first podium finish with the new team. It was also Volkswagen Motorsport’s first double podium. The M-Sport Ford pair of Evgeny Novikov and Nasser Al-Attiyah were next, ahead of the third VW (contested under the Volkswagen Motorsport 2 name) of Andreas Mikkelsen.

Ogier won the bonus-points Power Stage too, giving him a perfect haul of 28 points from the Vodafone Rally de Portugal. That makes a total of 102 points, more than double the tally of his closest competitor Hirvonen. The part-retired Loeb who only contested the first two rounds is still third in the championship, his 43 points putting him ahead of Ostberg, Latvala and Sordo.

Volkswagen Motorsport still leads the manufacturers’ championship standings, keeping the reigning champions Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team rooted to second place. In other, completely unrelated news, Citroen has suggested that it may pull Loeb out of retirement should the team be in danger of losing the title it has won eight times in the last 10 years.