Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala did an 'outstanding job' this weekend to win Wales Rally GB for the second year in succession.
The Finn moved to the front on Friday morning and was never again headed, extending his advantage on Saturday in the Brecon Beacon mountains and measuring his pace on Sunday in the Vale of Neath to triumph by almost 30 seconds.
It was an emphatic victory and a major boost for Latvala and Ford after what has been a trying few months in the wake of the domination by Sebastien Loeb and Citroen. Indeed the last time Latvala and the works Ford team won was back in Sweden in February.
“This win means a lot to me,” said Latvala. “Rally GB is like a second home event because I started my career here 10 years ago, and I have more experience of this event than my own rally in Finland. It's one of my favourite rounds and this is the first time in my career that I have won the same rally in consecutive seasons.
“We had some doubts about our speed after the previous gravel rally [in Finland], but we came back strongly. The team has done so much work since then and it paid off here, so this win is for everyone in the team."
“The car has been so fast all season but we've had too many disappointments and finally we delivered the result we deserved,” he added. “It's a fantastic feeling and it has been a great battle.”
Ford World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was delighted to see Latvala claim 'gold' and while team-mate Petter Solberg did end up getting pipped by Loeb for second - just 0.9 seconds split the two at the end - he still described the 1-3 as 'a great result'.
“To dominate the rally in the way we did will give a great confidence boost for everyone in the team. We've had a difficult season and it hasn't been easy at times, but our team spirit shone through here. This win will give Jari-Matti great encouragement for the rest of the season. Petter had a fantastic battle for second [too] and although he missed out, he can be equally happy with his display,” Wilson noted.
Gerard Quinn, senior manager for Ford Racing in Europe, echoed those thoughts: “Jari-Matti did an outstanding job here. After a career-best result on asphalt in Germany last month, he had a great test for this rally and came to Wales with real momentum.
“Petter had a nail-biting finish while fighting for second. It didn't quite work out but he, too, delivered a stunning performance and this is a great boost for the team,” Quinn concluded.