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Rally Finland victory for Ford

 

Video: Latvala and Anttila take historic victory in Ford Focus RS WRC car

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila won Rally Finland on the weekend, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It was the first time in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Carthat the Finns have triumphed in their home event.

Twenty-five-year-old Latvala, the youngest driver to win a world rally, became the youngest winner of Rally Finland since the WRC started in 1973. It was Ford's second consecutive victory in the event following the success of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen in 2009, and the manufacturer's fourth win in five years.

Organisers packed 18 more stages and 310.05km of action into two days instead of the usual three, on forest roads in central Finland, with average speeds reaching 133.09kph.

Latvala moved into the lead at the end of day one, building a 9.1sec overnight advantage. He extended that to 22.5sec on day two before road conditions turned against him. Overnight rain, which bound together slippery surface gravel and provided more grip, died out and a stiff breeze quickly dried the roads. Latvala was first in the start order and faced the unwanted task of sweeping loose stones from the surface to leave cleaner and faster conditions for those behind.

His lead dropped to 10.6sec with two tests remaining, but Latvala remained unflustered in the face of huge pressure to record his fourth WRC victory and second win of the 2010 season.

"It's amazing to win my home rally and it's something I have dreamed of since I was a small boy," he said. "The first time I watched this rally was in 1992 when I was seven and the only thing I could think about then was that I would never be able to drive as fast as the stars I was watching. In 2003 I drove this rally for the first time and still I never thought I would win. To win in front of my home fans, in a country where rallying means so much to everyone, is a dream."

Team-mates Hirvonen and Lehtinen retired from the lead after crashing following a jump (see the video footage below), while the third car of Abu Dhabi's Khalid Al Qassimi and Michael Orr also rolled into retirement. Neither crew was injured.

The championship returns to asphalt next month when drivers tackle vineyard tracks and military roads in Rallye Deutschland. The rally is based in Trier on 19 - 22 August.

Final positions
1. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 31min 29.6sec
2. S Ogier/J Ingrassia FRA Citroen C4 2hr 31min 39.7sec
3. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 31min 55.6sec
4. P Solberg/C Patterson NOR Citroen C4 2hr 32min 00.3sec
5. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 33min 14.6sec
6. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 37min 13.3sec
7. M Østberg/J Andersson NOR Subaru Impreza 2hr 37min 20.4sec
8. J Kankkunen/J Repo FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 39min 18.6sec
9. J Hänninen/M Markkula FIN Skoda Fabia 2hr 40min 34.6sec
10 P-G Andersson/A Fredriksson SWE Skoda Fabia 2hr 41min 45.3sec

Drivers
1. S Loeb 166pts
2. S Ogier 118pts
3. J-M Latvala 105pts
4. P Solberg 90pts
5. M Hirvonen 86pts
6. D Sordo 77pts

Manufacturers
1. Citroen Total 265pts
2. BP Ford Abu Dhabi 210pts
3. Citroen Junior 155pts
4. Stobart M-Sport Ford 108pts
5. Munchi's Ford 40pts


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