Jari-Matti Latvala has once again conquered Rally Sweden by claiming his fourth win today on the snow rally, this time driving for Toyota in the new Yaris WRC. It’s ultimately the first WRC victory for Toyota who are marking their return to the world rally scene after an absence of 17 years. Latvala finished second at the Monte Carlo season opener, his win today elevates him to the top of the standings.
Ford has been good so far, they continued to dominate with a double podium at Rally Sweden 2017. First up was Ott Tanak who finished second leading his teammate Sebastien Ogier whose hopes of a win vanished after suffering a spin earlier today. Latvala went ahead to win the live TV Power Stage leading Ogier, Thierry Neuville, Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon.
Dani Sordo came home fourth for Hyundai while Craig Breen rounded off the top five in his Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT car. Elfyn Evans placed the other M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS in sixth leading the Hyundai of Paddon and the Citroen of Stephane Lefebvre.
Photos: @World, Francois Baudin, Bastien Baudin
Latvala dominated stage 1 but Neuville went ahead to win the second and third stages. For Latvala, speed was not an issue as he hit 200 km/h in his Yaris on several occasions in between the two stages. He jumped into the lead again on stage 4 but Neuville beat him on the following stage.
Stage 9 provided the longest speed test for the drivers and it was Tanak who emerged victorious, leading teammate Ogier in the other Ford Fiesta WRC. Neuville was not far behind as he finished third on this stage. The Hyundai driver took the lead after stages 11 and 12, Tanak who was fastest on Saturday morning ended up in third with Latvala in second place. Ogier was fourth.
Disaster struck once again on Saturday for Neuville who was forced out of the lead after crashing into a drainage and damaging his suspension. The same thing happened to him back in Monte Carlo a few weeks ago. Latvala thus assumed the lead and went ahead to edge away from his rivals on Sunday morning. He was too quick for Tanak who was worried about his Ford, Ogier meanwhile spun but the two Ford drivers still managed a double podium.
The next round will test the true nature of the new WRC cars, they will face gravel for the first time at Rally Mexico on March 9.