12 February 2012
Latvala charges on in Sweden, pulls further ahead
Jari-Matti Latvala completes the morning loop with his overnight lead over Mikko Hirvonen stretched from 23 seconds to 35.6 seconds; Petter Solberg remains third, but Mads Ostberg has closed up and is just 4.9 seconds back with three stages to go...
Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala increased his overall lead on Rally Sweden to more than 30 seconds this morning, winning two of the three stages to firmly see off any challenge from his former team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen.
Latvala began the final leg with a comfortable 23 advantage, but despite that he pushed on and was 7.6 seconds quicker than Hirvonen in Lesjofors 1, the first test of the day. The 26-year-old then gained another 4.7 seconds in SS20 – as well as taking his eighth stage win of the event – before completing the loop with the third best time in Hagfors, 0.3 seconds up on compatriot.
Latvala now heads into Service H with a 35.6 second advantage and barring any mishaps in the final loop, looks assured of victory.
Hirvonen meanwhile has admitted that his hopes of winning are now effectively over. He was 'only' fourth fastest this morning in all three tests and after making set-up changes prior to SS19 complained that he didn't feel confident with his Citroen DS3 WRC.
Behind, Petter Solberg is third in the second 'works' Ford Fiesta RS WRC, although Mads Ostberg is making things difficult for the 2003 World Rally champion. Indeed Ostberg was quicker in all three stages and consequently has more than halved the gap between them. After setting the pace in SS21, Mads now lies just 4.9 seconds back.
Evgeny Novikov completes the top five, 40 seconds or so up on Citroen's Sebastien Loeb – the difference between them basically the same as it was on Saturday night.
Henning Solberg has slipped further back in seventh, with Patrik Sandell, the lead MINI runner, eighth, followed by Martin Prokop and Eyvind Brynildsen.
In the SWRC, P-G Andersson remains out front, as he has been from start-to-finish, excluding SS2. Craig Breen trails the Proton man, 3 minutes 19.5 seconds adrift, with Pontus Tidemund third in class in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
The event now concludes with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. SS22, Lesjofors 2, is due to get underway at 12.08 hours local time [11.08 hours British time].
The event ending Power Stage, Hagfors 2 (SS24) starts at 14.11 hours local time [13.11 hours British time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 21 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 2hours 54mins 12.8secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 35.6secs M
3. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 58.8secs M
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 03.7secs
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 36.5secs M
6. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +03mins 17.9secs M
7. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 38.6secs
8. Patrik Sandell Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC +05mins 04.6secs
9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 28.5secs
10. Eyvind Brynildsen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 59.1secs
11. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +07mins 09.4secs
12. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +07mins 24.7secs
13. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +09mins 05.1secs S
14. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +09mins 13.2secs
15. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +12mins 08.8secs M
16. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +12mins 24.6secs S
17. Mikko Pajunen Subaru Impreza STi R4 +13mins 17.9secs
18. Peter Van Merksteijn Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC +13mins 21.8secs
19. Pontus Tidemund Skoda Fabia S2000 +13mins 44.5secs S
20. Michal Solowow M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +15mins 11.8secs M
SWRC standings after Stage 21 (Top 3):
1. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 3hours 03mins 17.9secs S
2. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +03mins 19.5secs S
3. Pontus Tidemund Skoda Fabia S2000 +04mins 39.4secs S
SS2. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Went off*
SS8. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident
SS8. Dani Sordo Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC Engine
* denotes able to re-start under Rally 2 (new name for SupeRally)
all times unofficial
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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