Ford Rally Sweden final summary

Ford WRT press release

Ford Rally Sweden final summary
Listen to this article

Latvala wins Rally Sweden as Ford nets six of the best

Podium: winners Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, Ford World Rally Team celebrate
Podium: winners Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, Ford World Rally Team celebrate

Photo by:

Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila won Rally Sweden today by 16.6sec after a tense finale to this second round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Victory in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car was Ford’s sixth consecutive success at the only true winter rally of the season.

It was Latvala’s second win in Sweden, and it came despite his comfortable lead being slashed when he hit a rogue rock and punctured a tyre with just two more speed tests remaining before the finish. Team-mates Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson finished fourth in another Fiesta RS WRC, losing a potential podium position when they hit the same rock, with the same outcome.

It was the 50th world rally win for the Ford / M-Sport partnership since it started in 1997, and Fiesta RS WRCs filled four of the top five places.

Although temperatures were milder than normal, the snow and ice-covered roads presented a tough challenge as the mercury hovered around -10ºC. After an opening leg based mainly in Norway, the rally returned to Sweden for the final two days’ competition close to Hagfors. Drivers tackled 24 special stages covering 349.16km before this afternoon’s finish in the host city of Karlstad.

Latvala stamped his mark on the rally from the first moment, by setting fastest time in Thursday’s qualifying. It enabled the 26-year-old to select a start position well down the running order, to obtain better conditions after the loose snow was swept away.

He built a 16.8sec during Friday’s opening leg and stretched his advantage over former team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to 23.0sec yesterday, after shrewd management of the stud wear on his Michelin tyres. He extended his lead to 35.6sec during today’s final leg, before hitting an exposed rock in the rutted snow and ice and puncturing the front right tyre.

The lead was cut to just 8.4sec, but fastest time under extreme pressure in the penultimate stage allowed him to pull clear again. It was Latvala’s ninth stage win of the rally.

“Four years ago I won my first world rally here and became the youngest driver to do so,” he said. “To come back and win for a second time is very special. After retiring from the first round last month, I was under heavy pressure to do well. After making a mistake and hitting a rock, I knew I had to summon some extra speed and attack hard through the penultimate stage.

“It feels like a heavy weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’ve learned to stay calm when things go wrong and that paid dividends today. I knew Mikko would attack hard this morning so I was wide awake and ready for it. I had a comfortable lead before everything changed with just two stages to go, but I kept my cool,” he added.

Urged on by his home fans, Solberg held second on the opening day in Norway before a spin cost time. He ended the leg in third and remained there yesterday, despite pressure from fellow countryman Mads Østberg. The duo were separated by just 4.9sec when Solberg clipped the same rock as Latvala and the 37-year-old had to settle for fourth. However, he claimed bonus points by finishing second on the final Power Stage.

“I was disappointed to lose third, but I’m third in the championship and closed on the leader so it was a good weekend,” he said. “I hit the same rock as Jari-Matti. I wasn’t cutting the bend but it was in the middle of the ruts and I couldn’t avoid it. It’s my first rally in the Fiesta RS WRC on the loose and I’m really encouraged to have been so competitively so quickly.

Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson was delighted with the landmark victory for the Ford / M-Sport partnership. “Jari-Matti dominated from start to finish. We had a scare towards the end. This morning we were concerned that he drove so fast when he had a big lead, but given what happened this afternoon, it’s a good job he did. It’s a milestone victory for the team and with the confidence he has in the car, I’m sure there will be more to come,” he said.

Ford of Europe motorsport chief Gerard Quinn said: “A victory and seven cars in the top 10 represents a great weekend for Ford. Jari-Matti was in control from the very beginning and even when he received a setback this afternoon, he was strong enough to recover and seal the win. Petter drove well and his speed with a new car so early in the season bodes well for the future.”

News from other Ford teams

Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson celebrated their second consecutive Swedish podium with third in a Fiesta RS WRC after overhauling Solberg following his puncture. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Evgeny Novikov / Denis Giraudet finished fifth, with Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor seventh in the Go Fast Energy World Rally Team car. Also in the top 10 were Czech Ford National Team duo Martin Prokop / Zdenek Hrûza and Norway’s Eyvind Brynildsen / Cato Menkerud, taking ninth and 10th respectively. M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tänak / Kuldar Sikk retired with engine troubles this morning, ending a frustrating rally for the Estonians who went off the road in each of the opening two legs.

Next round

Round three takes Ford World Rally Team to North America for the first long-haul round of the season and the opening gravel event of 2012. Rally Mexico is based in Léon on 8 - 11 March.

Volkswagen Rally Sweden final summary
Previous article

Volkswagen Rally Sweden final summary

Next article

MINI Portugal Rally Sweden final summary

MINI Portugal Rally Sweden final summary
Load comments
How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off Prime

How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off

The new Rally1 hybrid cars made their competition debuts in Monte Carlo, but it was two semi-retired drivers who took centre stage in a thrilling battle between two of the World Rally Championship's most successful names. Here's how Sebastien Loeb completed a remarkable return on his M-Sport debut by beating reigning champion Sebastien Ogier

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Prime

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. We pick out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

Jan 20, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Prime

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Prime

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. We pick out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Prime

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against teammate Elfyn Evans.

Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Prime

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, we pick out his 10 greatest drives

Nov 25, 2021