Latvala flies to emotional Rally Finland victory

Rally Finland - Day two

By Franck Drui

31 July 2010 - 18:00
Latvala flies to emotional Rally (…)

Jari-Matti Latvala has won Neste Oil Rally Finland, round eight of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship. Co-driven by Miikka Anttila, Latvala took the lead on stage seven and drove without error to land his second win of the season.

The Finn, who breaks Markku Alen’s record as the youngest winner of the high-speed gravel event, withstood late pressure from factory Citroen pilot Sebastien Ogier to secure an emotional home victory.

“It’s a dream and I can’t even imagine it yet,” said the works Ford Focus pilot. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a small boy. The fans in Finland are fantastic and I’ve won in front of my home spectators. When we did the second last stage it started to go in the right direction and we were a little on the safe side. It’s amazing, a big relief and a fantastic rally. Our team has done really hard work and this victory is for the team.”

Ogier, competing in Finland for only the third time, was delighted with his second place finish on his first event with the leading Citroen squad. “It’s a fantastic weekend for me to finish second and better than expected for sure,” said Ogier, who went fastest on the rally’s final stage. “Jari-Matti was incredibly fast but it’s the perfect result for me.”

Sebastien Loeb did his bid for a seventh world title the power of good with third place in his C4. The French driver struggled on Friday morning when the loss of his car’s front splitter caused a handling imbalance. He was also slowed by running first on the road on day one.

“Third place is not what we prefer but I did not come here especially for the win,” said Loeb. “It’s not my rally I know because it’s difficult for me and third place for the championship is not so bad.”

Petter Solberg lost out on a podium finish by 4.7s and said he could not have gone any faster in his privateer Citroen. “I tried very hard but factory teams are factory teams,” said Solberg. “We have been fast but we’re a small rally team doing the best we can.”

Spaniard Dani Sordo secured fifth overall on his first run with the Citroen Junior Team. He said: “Fifth is not bad but I am not happy with my performance. The car was good, not always perfect, but after a very good test and the first stages there was no more from me. We need to be better the next time.”

Matthew Wilson completed the top six in his Stobart M-Sport Focus, despite a late charge by Mads Ostberg, who fought his way back up to seventh in his ageing Subaru Impreza, following a delay on Friday when he broke his car’s front-right wheel on a heavy landing. At the finish, Ostberg said it had been his best ever rally.

Four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen finished eighth with Super 2000 World Rally Championship stars Juho Hanninen and P-G Andersson ninth and tenth respectively.

Loeb continues to lead the 2010 FIA Drivers’ Championship standings, with a new total of 166 points, while Ogier remains second on a total of 118. A maximum score today moves Latvala into third with 105 points while Petter Solberg also moves up a spot into fourth with a total of 90 points.

Final standings:

01 Jari-Matti LATVALA Ford Focus WRC 2h31m29.6s
02 Sébastien OGIER Citroën C4 WRC +10.1s
03 Sébastien LOEB Citroën C4 WRC +26.0s
04 Petter SOLBERG Citroën C4 WRC +30.7s
05 Dani SORDO Citroën C4 WRC +1m45.0s
06 Matthew WILSON Ford Focus WRC +5m43.7s
07 Mads ÖTSBERG Subaru Impreza WRC +5m50.8s
08 Juha KANKKUNEN Ford Focus WRC +7m49.0s
09 Juho HÄNNINEN Skoda Fabia S2000 +9m05.0s
10 Per Gunnar ANDERSSON Skoda Fabia S2000 +10m15.7s
11 Patrik SANDELL Skoda Fabia S2000 +10m35.0s
12 Toni GARDEMEISTER Ford Fiesta S2000 +10m52.2s
13 Martin PROKOP Ford Fiesta S2000 +13m12.2s
14 Mattias THERMAN Ford Focus WRC +13m51.4s
15 Marko KAKKO Ford Fiesta S2000 +14m40.5s



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