Jari-Matti Latvala held on to his advantage in the final two stages of Rally Finland to record his second WRC win of the season over VW teammate Sebastien Ogier.
Having moved into the lead of the rally on Friday afternoon and strengthened his position atop the leaderboard with a succession of stage wins on Saturday, Latvala eked out a further nine tenths over Ogier with a win on the first of Sunday’s two runs through the 14km Myhinpaa test.
That gave the Finn a 14.1s advantage heading into the powerstage finale, but Latvala was in no mood to cruise to the finish – missing out on Ogier’s benchmark by just four tenths to win the rally by 13.7s, his third in the event and second in a row after his victory in 2014.
“It was a fantastic. I had a really good drive all through the week, especially Saturday, which was one of the best days of my life,” said an elated Latvala after taking the flying finish.
“After Poland I decided my championship is done, I decided I had to win Rally Finland. To win it three times is amazing, and for a second time in a row, it’s really special.”
With three bonus points for the best powerstage time, Ogier now holds a points lead of 89 over Latvala, who jumps from fourth to second in the standings, with five rallies remaining.
Mads Ostberg sealed the final podium place for Citroen in third, albeit 1m36s off the pace of the leading Volkswagen duo, with Thierry Neuville nearly four minutes back in fourth as the best of the Hyundais.
Ott Tanak meanwhile fended off fellow Ford driver Juho Hanninen in the battle for fifth place in the final two stages, the pair having started the day only 1.9s apart.
After crashing out of third place on Saturday, Citroen’s Kris Meeke, back under Rally2 rules, was able to secure a consolation point with the third best time in the powerstage, 2.9s down on Ogier.
|1||Jari-Matti Latvala||Volkswagen Polo||2h33m03.8|
|2||Sebastien Ogier||Volkswagen Polo||2h33m17.5||13.7|
|3||Mads Ostberg||Citroen DS3||2h34m40.6||1m36.8|
|4||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20||2h37m02.5||3m58.7|
|5||Ott Tanak||Ford Fiesta||2h37m33.1||4m29.3|
|6||Juho Hanninen||Ford Fiesta||2h37m48.1||4m44.3|