No stopping Jari-Matti Latvala to home double in Rally Finland
Jari-Matti Latvala held his nerve to win Rally Finland for the second time yesterday as Citroen Abu Dhabi’s Kris Meeke claimed third place in the World Rally Championship (WRC) event.
The Finn held off the challenge of Volkswagen teammate Sebastien Ogier to prevail by 3.6 seconds after the remaining three stages of the of 26-stage event were completed.
Latvala led by 3.4 seconds going into yesterday’s action, having seen an advantage of 31 seconds whittled away as he suffered with brake problems in the closing stages of the Saturday’s action.
After setting the fastest time on the opening stage of the day, Latvala saw Ogier trim his lead back down to 3.7 on the penultimate stage.
Ogier set the fastest time on the final stage, but only by a margin of 0.1 seconds over Latvala, to ensure that the home fans in Jyvaskyla could begin celebrating.
It was the 11th WRC victory of Latvala’s career, including a 2010 triumph at the event. Other than a braking problem, it was a perfect weekend.
“It was a really, really hard job to get this victory,” he told wrc.com. “I had a fantastic feeling with the driving from the beginning of the rally. Everything went really, really well until we had the problem, which put us in a really difficult position.
“We were so close to losing the whole rally. Today was quite a nervous feeling, but we managed to hold it.”
World champion Ogier eased some of his disappointment at failing to win the event for a second successive year, by picking up three bonus points from his final-stage fastest time. He took 21 points from the event, to Latvala’s 27, with the latter getting two extra points for being second-quickest on Stage 26.
Overall, Latvala is 44 points adrift of Ogier in the standings with five events remaining, but the Frenchman was upbeat about his weekend’s work.
“Second place would be great this weekend,” he said. “It’s been a great fight with Jari-Matti.”
Meeke, who ran as high as second early in the event, finished 50.6 seconds behind Latvala to achieve his third podium, following third-place finishes in Monte Carlo and Argentina.
The Northern Irishman moved up to sixth in the drivers’ standings, but believes there is more to come. “It’s a pretty special result, but we’re still not near perfection,” he said. “Until I get there, I’ll keep working.”
Meeke’s Citroen Abu Dhabi teammate Mads Ostberg crashed out of the event on Saturday.
Andreas Mikkelsen, in the third Volkswagen, was more than a minute behind Meeke in fourth place, with the M-Sport Ford of Mikko Hirvonen completing the top five.
The next round, Rally Germany, takes place between August 21 and 24.
* with agency
Published: August 3, 2014 04:00 AM