8 February 2014
Rally Sweden: Latvala one stage from victory
Jari-Matti Latvala will head into the final stage of Rally Sweden with a 46.8 second advantage over Andreas Mikkelsen.
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala looks set to take the win on Rally Sweden and now just one stage stands between him and victory.
Latvala won all four tests this morning on the opening loop to build a comfortable 42.7 second advantage and heading into the repeats he looked good. With SS21 cancelled, competitors went from service to Torntorp 1, SS22 and Latvala was second quickest, gaining another 4.5 seconds. The Finn was then third in SS23 and while Mikkelsen was quicker, there was only 0.4 seconds between them. Latvala now goes to SS24 with a 46.8 second margin and barring a disaster nothing can stop him, although he did admit he had a little moment in SS22.
“At a right hand corner and I came off the ruts and started to slide, so I had to force the car in a bit for the next corner,” he explained. “Not a serious moment, but woke me up for sure.”
“I [then] did a basic jump in there [SS23 – the next test] not small, not long. Overall there is a full gravel line, but with snow on the side. You really need to stay on the line, of course the tyre is moving a bit on the ruts, but I am not too worried,” he added.
Behind, Mikkelsen's second best time in SS23 has helped the Norwegian consolidate second. He had been coming under pressure from Mads Ostberg, with the Citroen man quickest in SS22. That allowed him to close to within 11.6 seconds of Mikkelsen, before the VW Motorsport II pilot responded in Vargasen. The two are now split by 13.8 seconds.
Further back, Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak continue to hold fourth and fifth, with Sebastien Ogier, who was fastest in SS23, now up to sixth, albeit just 0.1 seconds up on Henning Solberg. Pontus Tidemand, Elfyn Evans and Craig Breen complete the top-ten.
In WRC2, Jari Ketomaa heads the class, 18.7 seconds up on Karl Kruuda. Yazeed Al-Rajhi has slipped back to third, after going off in SS22 and then rolling in SS23.
The final event ending Power Stage, the 15.87 kilometre Varmullsasen 2, is now due to start at 15.13 hours local time [14.13 hours UK time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 23 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hrs 51m 53.2s M
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 46.8s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 00.6s M
4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 25.2s M
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 50.9s
6. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +04m 27.3s M
7. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 27.4s
8. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 21.9s
9. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06m 38.4s M
10. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08m 45.1s
11. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +11m 13.3s M
12. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 18.2s WRC2
13. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +13m 36.9s WRC2
14. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +15m 17.6s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 23 (Top 3):
1. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 3hour 05m 11.4s WRC2
2. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +00m 18.7s WRC2
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +01m 59.4s WRC2
SS8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Hit a rock M*
SS11. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza STi N16 Engine WRC2
SS12. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Pulled front right wheel off M*
SS22. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident M
*Re-started under the Rally 2 regulations
all times unofficial
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