Rally France: Latvala wins, Evans holds off Mikkelsen for second

Jari-Matti Latvala secured a third WRC win of the season after holding his lead through the final stages of the Tour de Corse, as Elfyn Evans held off Andreas Mikkelsen to take second.

Volkswagen driver Latvala began the final day of the Corsican event with a slender advantage of two seconds over erstwhile leader Evans, but wasted little time in stretching his advantage.

The Finn extended his lead to a comfortable 17.6s on SS7, the Sotta-Chialza test, before finishing the following Zerubia-Martini stage with a full 32.7s of buffer over M-Sport Ford man Evans.

Still, Latvala was in no mood to cruise home, extending his lead to 43.1s seconds in the 16.74km Bisinao-Agosta Plage test to wrap up his 15th win in the WRC and only his second on tarmac following his breakthrough success in Alsace last year.

"It's been a weekend we haven't been pushing to the maximum at any point, but it went perfectly," said Latvala after becoming the first Finn to win on Corsican soil since Markku Alen in 1984.

"Last year I won in Alsace, and now I've done it in Corsica, so it's an important win to show I can be competent on every surface."

Evans, meanwhile, was forced to turn his attentions to fending off VW's Mikkelsen in the battle for second, his advantage dropping from 30.8s at the start of the day to just 9.8s ahead of the powerstage finale.

The Welshman nonetheless was able to keep Mikkelsen at bay, ending the rally 3.2s clear of his rival to secure a career-best finish.

"Andreas was pushing hard, and to be honest we made the job harder than it needed to be this morning," said Evans. "But we knew as long as we had a clean stage, he couldn't make it up on time alone."

Kris Meeke finished as best of the Citroens in fourth place, 1m33s behind leader Latvala, ahead of Hayden Paddon in the best of the Hyundais in fifth and the second Citroen of Mads Ostberg, who fell just six seconds short of the Kiwi.

Dani Sordo had started the day out of the points in 11th, but a succession of quick times - including the fastest time on SS8 - allowed the Spaniard to end the rally seventh, also clinching a bonus point for the third-quickest powerstage time.

Tarmac specialist Bryan Bouffier, Toyota sportscar ace Stephane Sarrazin and the second M-Sport Ford of Ott Tanak completed the scorers.

Kevin Abbring had started the day fifth in the fourth Hyundai, but an off in SS8 ended his hopes of scoring points on his WRC tarmac debut.

Newly crowned triple champion Sebastien Ogier - his victory hopes ruined by a gearshift problem on Friday - had to be content with three bonus points for setting the fastest powerstage time, 10.2s up on nearest challenger Latvala.

Leading finishers:

Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
1 Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen 2h36m46.7s
2 Elfyn Evans Ford +43.1s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen +46.3s
4 Kris Meeke Citroen +1m33.4s
5 Hayden Paddon Hyundai +1m53.6s
6 Mads Ostberg Citroen +1m59.8s
7 Dani Sordo Hyundai +2m10.4s
8 Bryan Bouffier Ford +2m12.8s
9 Stephane Sarrazin Ford +2m39.3s
10 Ott Tanak Ford +3m43.0s

 

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About this article
Series WRC
Event Rallye de France
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala , Andreas Mikkelsen , Elfyn Evans
Teams Volkswagen Motorsport
Article type Leg report