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Sweden - day 1: Latvala looking good.


Jari-Matti Latvala has dominated day 1 of the Uddeholm Swedish Rally, the second round in the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.

The BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT 'new boy' put in a fantastic performance and after setting the second best time on Thursday night, in the short 1.90 kilometre Karlstad super special, the Finn was on it from the off this morning.

Indeed he immediately made the most of his favourable position in the order - running tenth on the road - and grabbed the lead in SS2.

Jari was 3.3 seconds up on his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen in the 15.50 kilometre-run through Stensjon and then inched further ahead in SS3, when he again beat Mikko, this time by just 1.9 seconds.

It was in SS4 though that he really made his mark and with a time more than 15 seconds quicker than anyone else he more than quadrupled his lead, from 5.6 seconds to 23 seconds heading into the short remote service at Sunne.

In the afternoon, on the repeat loop, he was again the standard setter and was 4.2 seconds up on Gigi Galli in SS5. He continued his winning ways in SS6, 7.5 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, before completing a clean sweep of the days 'proper' stages in SS7, 3.3 seconds up on Gigi, who was again 'best of the rest'.

Latvala then posted the fourth best time in the second run through the Karlstad SSS and will now take a very good 48.2 second lead into day 2 and is seemingly well-placed to take his debut win in the WRC.

Mikko, who many tipped as the pre-event favourite, meanwhile finished day one in second having lost further ground this afternoon when he was first on the road following Sebastien Loeb's exit.

Loeb had been running third overall until SS4, when he hit a snowbank and rolled his C4 WRC. Although he managed to nurse his car to the mid-day halt his team was unable to make proper repairs - due to the restrictions that apply under the RSZ - and he retired on the following liaison section.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Miikka Anttila (FIN) BP Ford Focus RS WRC 07. Swedish Rally. February 7-10 2008. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / worldrallypics.com]
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) BP Ford Focus RS WRC 07. Swedish Rally. February 7-10 2008. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / worldrallypics.com]
Henning Solberg (NOR) / Cato Menkerud (NOR) Stobart Ford Focus WRC 07. Swedish Rally. February 7-10 2008. [PIC CREDIT: STOBART / worldrallypics.com]
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