Latvala wins in Sweden.
After dominating since day one, Jari Matti savored victory in a Ford Fiesta RS but not without being put to a harsh test; his over 35 minutes comfortable lead was slashed when he hit an exposed rock in the rutted snow and ice and puncturing the front right tyre.
“Four years ago I won my first world rally here and became the youngest driver to do so. To come back and win for a second time is very special. After retiring from the first round last month, I was under heavy pressure to do well. After making a mistake and hitting a rock, I knew I had to summon some extra speed and attack hard through the penultimate stage. It feels like a heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders.” said Jari Matti.
WRC Sweden win was the 50th world rally win for the Ford / M-Sport partnership since it started in 1997, and Fiesta RS WRCs filled four of the top five places. “It’s a milestone victory for the team and with the confidence he has in the car, I’m sure there will be more to come,” Said Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson.
Jari Matti’s former team mate, Mikko Hirvonen featured strongly early on, but soon had to come to the terms with the fact that he would not be able to beat Latvala and had to settle for second spot, “We learnt a lot this week. I wanted to win, but Latvala was very strong,” said the Citroën/Michelin’s newcomer. The defending champion Sebastian Loeb finished 6th.
The third Podium was a battle between two Norwegians Mads Ostberg and Petter Solberg. The Ford privateer figured on the provisional podium on Friday before a poor time on SS9 (Torsby) allowed the 2003 world champion to ease past. The youngster never gave up, though, and chipped away at the gap, eventually harvesting a top-three finish when Solberg (4th) hit the same rock that Latvala hit on SS22.
One of the most famous jumps in the WRC is Colin Crest, named after the legendary driver, Colin Mcrae. Last weekend, Newbie Ott Tänak won the Colin’s Crest Award after jumping 32 meters in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Second was Mikko Hirvonen who cleared 30metres in his Citroen DS3 WRC, followed by Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, who flew 29 m in his Skoda S2000.
This year’s victory listing is the most modest since Colin’s Crest Award was established in 2008th Premiere edition won Khalid Al Qassimi of 36 meters and the 2010 and 2011 measured the victory jumps 37 m, recorded by Marius Aasen and Ken Block.
Results: World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden, 9-12 February.
1) Jari-Matti Latvala, Finland, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3.18.28,3
2) Mikko Hirvonen, Finland, Citroen DS3 WRC, + 16.6 sec
3) Mads Østberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 38.8
4) Petter Solberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 1.14,3 min
5) Evgeny Novikov, Russia, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 2.41,4
6) Sebastien Loeb, France, Citroen DS3 WRC, + 2.55,1
7) Henning Solberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 3.49,5
8) Sandell, Sweden, the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, + 5.08,9
9) Martin Prokop, Czech Republic, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 5.30,0
10) Eyvind Brynildsen, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 6.27,2
Driver standings after 2 of 13 WRC Races
1) Loeb, 39 points, 2) Hirvonen, 32, 3), P. Solberg, 29, 4) Latvala, 26, 5) Novikov, 21.
Pictures by Rallye-Sport.fr