Sunday, 12 February 2017

Rally - Sweden Day 3

Jari-Matti Latvala's Rally Sweden success was his 17th career win and 4th Rally Sweden victory, and after a 17-year absence from the FIA World Rally Championship, Toyota are back on the top step just two rallies into their comeback. 

Latvala began the final leg with a slender 3.8sec lead over Ott Tänak after long-time leader Thierry Neuville crashed last night. He won all three snow and ice-covered speed tests in his Yaris World Rally Car to extend the margin to 29.2sec.

He claimed maximum bonus points from the Power Stage and, after finishing second in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, holds a four-point lead in the drivers’ standings.

It is the first time any driver other than four-time champion Sébastien Ogier has led the championship since February 2014.

“It’s amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we’re winning. I have no words to describe it, I’m so emotional. We’re at a good level but now we go forward and it gets more difficult. Mexico is next up and I’m really motivated for the championship,” he said.

Tänak, driving a Ford Fiesta, had the upper hand on Latvala yesterday when he closed in. The Estonian was unhappy with his car’s handling today and after conceding seven seconds in the opening special stage, he settled for second, matching his career-best result.


“I had a new experience opening the road on Friday but when the conditions were more equal yesterday we had some really good speed," said Tänak,"I’m happy with that and what we have achieved this weekend has given us a lot of confidence. Today, we knew straight away that Jari-Matti [Latvala] would be hard to beat. At the beginning of the first stage we knew that we didn’t have the same feeling as yesterday.  It was a bit disappointing at the time, knowing that we had no option but to settle for second, but I’m still really happy with my weekend."

Team-mate Ogier was also in the victory fight but a spin in the first corner of the opening test ended his hopes and he finished 30.3sec behind Tänak.

Dani Sordo was the top Hyundai finisher in fourth following Neuville’s accident. The Spaniard finished 39.7sec ahead of Craig Breen, who struggled to perfect his Citroën C3’s set-up but banked good points from a solid debut in the car. "I'm pleased to have made it to the finish and to score my first points for a factory team!" said Craig, "It was a pretty cool weekend, even though we weren't always completely happy with our performance level. We have to move on. The Citroën C3 WRC has so much potential and I can't wait to be driving it again!"

Elfyn Evans was sixth in another Fiesta despite opening the road for the remainder of the rally, tasked with the arduous job of sweeping a clean line for the cars behind. As the final day of competition got underway however, there was late drama for the Brits as their DMACK-clad Ford Fiesta WRC suffered what appeared to be an ignition coil failure over the opening stage of the morning (SS16).The Welshman made repairs and the car was restored to full health for the final two tests.

Fi nal results:
1. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 02:36:03.6
2. Tanak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +29.2
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +59.5
4. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:11.5
5. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:51.2
6. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:26.6
7. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +5:31.2
8. Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +7:14.7
9. Tidemand / Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:11.1
10. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +10:02.9
11. Veiby / Skjaermoen (Skoda Fabia R5) +10:18.5
12. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +10:28.7

FIA World Rally Championship (round 2 of 13):
1. J-M Latvala  48pts
2. S Ogier  44pts
3. O Tänak  33pts

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