Jari-Matti Latvala has done something he hadn't managed for 217 days when he claimed victory on Wales Rally GB this afternoon, his first in the FIA World Rally Championship since Rally Sweden seven months and four days ago.
Co-driven by Miikka Anttila, Latvala took the lead on Friday’s third stage and gradually pulled clear at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, reaching the finish in Cardiff with an advantage of 27.8s.
Sebastien Loeb beat Latvala’s factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg in a thrilling fight for second place, although the Citroen driver’s sequence of wins - which dates back to Philips Rally Argentina at the end of April - is now over.
Behind fourth-placed Mads Ostberg, who was hampered throughout the final day by an engine misfire, Mikko Hirvonen fought back from a frustrating rally to win the event-closing Power Stage. The result means only Loeb and Citroen team-mate Hirvonen can fight for the WRC drivers’ title on the final three rounds.
Frenchman Loeb’s capture of second came after an epic scrap with Solberg with the pairing swapping position on three occasions on the final day. Solberg started the last stage 0.1s ahead but was unable to prevent Loeb from moving in front.
1. Latvala-Anttila (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) in 3.03'40”3
2. Loeb-Elena (Citroen DS3 WRC) + 27”8
3. P. Solberg-Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 28”7
4. Ostberg-Andersson (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) + 1'10”6
5. Hirvonen-Lehtinen (Citroen DS3 WRC) + 1'29”5
6. Novikov-Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) + 3'37"0
7. Neuville-Gilsoul (Citroen DS3 WRC) + 4'11”9
8. Wilson-Martin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) + 6'00"4
9. Prokop-Hruza (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) + 6'58”9
10. Al-Attiyah-Bernacchini (Citroen DS3 WRC) + 9'32”1
1. Loeb 219 points, 2. Hirvonen 158, 3. P. Solberg 119, 4. Ostberg 114, 5. Latvala 113, etc.