LATVALA CLAIMS FRENCH VICTORY

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LATVALA CLAIMS FRENCH VICTORY

PHOTO: Jari-Matti Latvala overcame extreme weather to win his second straight Tour de Corse (Volkswagen pic)

JARI-Matti Latvala scored back-to-back French World Rally Championship victories by winning the Rallye de France on the Mediterranean island of Corsica on Sunday.

The Finn scored his maiden asphalt triumph in 2014 in the Alsace region of France and followed up with his second sealed-surface success after a particularly demanding Tour de Corse.

Latvala, driving a Volkswagen Polo R, beat Elfyn Evans’ Ford Fiesta RS by 43.1sec after three days of action on twisty and narrow mountain roads lashed by extreme weather than caused the cancellation of two of the nine scheduled stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished third in another Polo R, a further 3.2sec behind.

Sébastien Ogier won the final live-TV Power Stage in a Polo R to claim three bonus points and redeem some satisfaction despite finishing only 15th overall after a disastrous Friday. The Frenchman had an event to forget, in sharp contrast to the perfect weekend when he clinched his third world drivers’ championship at Coates Hire Rally Australia just three weeks ago.

Robert Kubica took two points for second in the Power Stage in a Fiesta RS and Latvala took the final point.

“I am struggling to put it all into words. It is a fantastic feeling to win here on Corsica,” Latvala said at the finish.

“The conditions were not easy again today, as we were constantly switching between dry and damp sections. And my lead over Elfyn Evans was not exactly what you would call comfortable.

“Despite this, I wanted to avoid taking too many risks, to extend my lead in a controlled and cool manner and to wrap up the win. I did exactly that.”

Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila showed their pace on what were probably the toughest conditions seen in recent years and at a Rally de France with an extremely diverse character.

Two of the nine special stages were cancelled due to landslides following rain, reducing the overall competitive distance to just 245.35 kilometres. Teams and drivers battled extreme weather throughout the three days of the rally.

Friday was dominated by a hurricane and heavy rain, while the mud-covered asphalt stages made life difficult for the drivers and co-drivers on Saturday. On Sunday, the biggest challenge facing the crews was a route that was damp in some places, dry in others, and gradually drying out over the course of the day.

Results, Tour de Corse-Rally France (Rd 11 of 13, provisional):

  1. JM Latvala / M Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:39:46.7
  2. E Evans / D Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +43.1
  3. A Mikkelsen / O Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +46.3
  4. K Meeke / P Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:33.4
  5. H Paddon / J Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:53.6
  6. M Østberg / J Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:59.8
  7. D Sordo / M Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:10.4
  8. B Bouffier / T De La Haye (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:12.8
  9. S Sarrazin / J J Renucci (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:39.3​
  10. O Tanak / R Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:43.0

FIA Drivers’ standings (after Rd 11):

  1. S Ogier 238 points
  2. JM Latvala 160
  3. A Mikkelsen 126
  4. M Østberg 98
  5. T Neuville 86
  6. K Meeke 83
  7. E Evans 81
  8. H Paddon 66
  9. O Tanak 63
  10. D Sordo 62

FIA Manufacturers’ standings (after Rd 11):

  1. Volkswagen Motorsport 369 points
  2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 184
  3. Hyundai Motorsport 183
  4. M-Sport World Rally Team 170
  5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 91

Next round:

Rd 12, Rally de Espana, 22-25 October

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.