Fast finish lifts Latvala

Defending champion won the final four of the six stages

Last Updated: 15/09/12 8:58pm

  • Share:
Petter Solberg: took the initial two stage wins

Petter Solberg: took the initial two stage wins

Sky Bet

Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala moved into a commanding lead after the opening day of the Wales Rally GB.

The factory Ford driver, who claimed his only victory of last year in this event, won the final four of the six stages.

Ford World Rally team-mate Petter Solberg took the initial two stage wins to lead eight-times champion Sebastien Loeb by 2.3 seconds early on, with Latvala fourth.

Finn Latvala ran wide at one point on stage two, clipping a pile of logs which saw him cross the line with a piece of wood wedged between a rim and tyre, so dropping to fourth overall, 4.4secs down.

But then Latvala took control on his favourite stage of the rally, the first run through Myherin, and over a distance of 27.88km, as Solberg lost 9.3secs.

Latvala then made it a clean sweep of the afternoon stages to open up a 12.1secs cushion to Solberg, with Loeb a distant 21.3secs adrift as he struggled in the more slippery conditions following showers.

A naturally delighted Latvala said: "I've been trying to push and I'm pleased with my performance. I haven't had this feeling for a long, long time."

Loeb, who can clinch his ninth WRC crown in Wales given he has a 54-point cushion at present over Citroen World Rally team-mate Mikko Hirvonen with three rounds remaining after the current event, has admitted to an "impossible" fight against the Ford pairing.

Loeb, however, shrugged off his sluggish performance in comparison to the Fords, and seems content to settle for a podium place after a run of five consecutive wins, and with his home event in France up next.

Flat out

"I was flat out everywhere, but we have no chance (against the Fords) because the grip is so low," said Loeb. "But I'm not concerned. I don't need to win."

Hirvonen lies fifth, 53.8secs adrift of Latvala, with the two Citroen drivers sandwiched either side of Norwegian Mads Ostberg for Adapta Ford.

Behind Hirvonen come M-Sport Ford duo Evgeny Novikov and Thierry Neuville, while in his first rally since the Monte Carlo event in January, Britain's Matthew Wilson is running ninth, three minutes and 17 seconds adrift.

  • Share:

Related

Wales Rally GB 2012

Jari-Matti Latvala: Ford driver hailed his team after victory at Wales Rally GB

Wales of delight for Latvala

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his second win of the season as he eased home to a commanding victory on the final day of the Wales Rally GB.

Jari-Matti Latvala carves his way through the Welsh countryside

Latvala builds advantage

Jari-Matti Latvala holds a significant lead over Ford team-mate Petter Solberg heading into the final day of the Wales Rally GB.

Sebastien Loeb: Chosen to start in third place on Friday

Loeb opts to start third

Sebastien Loeb has chosen to start third in the Rally of Great Britain after going fastest in qualifying on Thursday.

Most Popular

Features

Motorsport tickets

Motorsport tickets

Get your tickets for Speedway, British Superbike Championship and British Touring Cars now!

Full speed ahead

Full speed ahead

Scott Dixon discusses his future plans and the growth of the IndyCar Series in the United States.

America's finest

America's finest

To celebrate Independence Day, Alex Ferguson names his favourite things about sport across the pond.