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Sweden - day 3: Latvala re-writes record books.


BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala became the youngest driver to ever win a WRC event on Sunday, when he claimed the honours on the Uddeholm Swedish Rally.

Latvala stamped his authority on proceedings pretty much from the off, seizing the lead in the first 'proper' stage and finishing the opening loop 23 seconds ahead of his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, having made the most of his more favourable position in the running order.

The 22-year-old then stretched his advantage in the afternoon, despite the fact the conditions were more even, and he finished the opening leg with a 48.2 second cushion, having won all six forest stages.

Jari maintained that lead on days 2 and 3 to claim the victory on the only winter round in the schedule, although with temperatures so mild, there was little snow and ice. Indeed slush and water often filled the rutted gravel roads as cars carved through the soft surface and the organisers had to cancel two speed tests due to the poor conditions.

All of that though was no concern to Latvala and he comfortably took his debut win by just under a minute. In doing so he eclipses the record held by the late Henri Toivonen, who won the RAC Rally in Britain in 1980 when he was 24-years-old.

"Henri Toivonen is a big hero of mine and in my dreams I wanted to beat his record, so this means so much to me," said Latvala.

"I couldn't have dreamed I could win on only my second event in a works team, especially after such a disappointing start to the year in Monte Carlo last month. I can't really find the words to describe my feelings. I never thought I would win this weekend."

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile had to settle for the runners-up spot in sister car and while he was disappointed not to be able to challenge for the win, the result puts him top in the race for the drivers' title, a position he has never held before.

"I came here to win but Jari-Matti made it clear on Friday that he was the man of the rally so I had to settle for second. I was frustrated I couldn't find a rhythm on Friday but then I eased my pace because I wanted to make sure of the points," he explained.



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]
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) BP Ford Focus RS WRC 07. Swedish Rally. February 7-10 2008. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / worldrallypics.com]
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) / Miikka Anttila (FIN) BP Ford Focus RS WRC 07. Swedish Rally. February 7-10 2008. [PIC CREDIT: FORD / worldrallypics.com]
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