Wales of delight for Latvala
Loeb overhauls Solberg on final day to deny Ford one-two
Last Updated: 17/09/12 12:38pm
Jari-Matti Latvala: Ford driver hailed his team after victory at Wales Rally GB
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.
Latvala, whose last win came at the second race of the season in Sweden, came home 27.8 seconds ahead of championship leader Sebastien Loeb, who denied Ford a one-two by edging Petter Solberg into third place by less than a second.
The final day was all about keeping the car safely on the track for Latvala, after his storming performance over the first two days established an untouchable lead.
"This is a fantastic feeling," said Latvala on wrc.com.
"It's one of my favourite rallies, I won it last year and it feels amazing to win again after such a big battle.
"To be honest this victory is for the team. They have done so much work on the car and it was working so well on this rally.
"I was really happy with the set-up and it was a great performance."
With Latvala alone at the front, attention today was largely on the battle for second place, with Solberg leading Loeb by 6.4 seconds at the start of the day.
The Citroen of Loeb, bidding for his sixth victory on the spin, reduced the deficit by five seconds on today's opening stage and duly moved ahead of Solberg on the next.
Solberg reclaimed second on the first stage of the afternoon but Loeb hit back again to take second place by just 0.9secs from the Ford man.
Solberg was left to rue the day's opening stage, when so much time was lost to the Frenchman.
"I would liked to have beaten him but I lost too much time in the morning," said Solberg.
"I'm very happy for Ford but first and third should have been first and second."
Fourth place went to Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) despite late engine problems, while the second works Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen was a low-key fifth.
Hirvonen is now the only man who can deny team-mate Loeb his ninth world title in a row, but with a 61-point lead the Frenchman is well placed to complete the job on home soil next time out.
Ott Tanak crashed out of sixth place late on the final day to hand that place to M-Sport Ford team-mate Evgeny Novikov, while Thierry Neuville, Matthew Wilson, Martin Prokop and Nasser Al-Attiyah completed the points finishers.