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 LatvalaVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC2hrs 51m 53.2s M
2. Andreas MikkelsenVolkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC+00m 46.8s M
3. Mads OstbergCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 00.6s M
4. Mikko HirvonenM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+02m 25.2s M
5. Ott TanakM-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC+02m 50.9s
6. Sebastien OgierVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC+04m 27.3s M
7. Henning SolbergFord Fiesta RS WRC+04m 27.4s
8. Pontus TidemandFord Fiesta RS WRC+05m 21.9s
9. Elfyn EvansM-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+06m 38.4s M
10. Craig BreenFord Fiesta RS WRC+08m 45.1s

Others

11. Kris MeekeCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +11m 13.3s M
12. Jari KetomaaDrive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 18.2s WRC2
13. Karl KruudaFord Fiesta S2000+13m 36.9s WRC2
14. Yazeed Al-RajhiFord Fiesta RRC+15m 17.6s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 23 (Top 3):

1. Jari KetomaaDrive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 3hour 05m 11.4s WRC2
2. Karl KruudaFord Fiesta S2000 +00m 18.7s WRC2
3. Yazeed Al-RajhiFord Fiesta RRC+01m 59.4s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Hit a rock M*
SS11. Anders GrondalSubaru Impreza STi N16Engine WRC2
SS12. Juho HanninenHyundai Motorsport i20 WRCPulled front right wheel off M*

SS22. Martin ProkopJipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Accident M

*Re-started under the Rally 2 regulations

all times unofficial

 

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