/ Motorsport

Latvala wins in Sweden despite late puncture

Updated: Sunday, 12 Feb 2012 20:50

Jari-Matti Latvala secured the Rally of Sweden title Craig Breen finished second in the Super S2000 World Rally Championship
Jari-Matti Latvala secured the Rally of Sweden title Craig Breen finished second in the Super S2000 World Rally Championship

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala overcame a late puncture to win the Rally of Sweden on Sunday and make amends for crashing out of the Monte Carlo season-opener on the first day.

The Finn beat compatriot and former team mate Mikko Hirvonen, now with Citroen, by 16.6 seconds while eight-times world champion Sebastien Loeb finished a distant sixth.

Loeb, winner in Monte Carlo, saw his hopes vanish when he hit a snow bank on the opening day but retained the championship lead by winning the power stage.

Latvala still had to overcome a late scare when he hit a rock and punctured a front tyre on the 22nd stage, a setback that slashed his lead from more than half a minute to eight seconds.

"It is amazing. Four years ago I won this rally and now I got it again," Latvala, who was able to reassert himself and rebuild his lead while Hirvonen struggled on worn tyres, told the wrc.com website.

"The first time I won this rally I became the youngest ever winner of a world championship rally and beat my hero Henri Toivonen's record. It's fantastic to win it again," added the Finn.

Norway's Petter Solberg, Latvala's team mate, hit the same rock on the same 22nd stage and lost third place to compatriot Mads Ostberg, also in a Ford.

"We got a lot of pressure after Monte and I felt the pressure coming to this event. This has taken a lot of pressure out of the coming events," said Latvala. "I think we're really going to challenge Citroen. We're working very hard."

Craig Breen, the reigning World Rally Academy champion, has continued his fantastic start to the 2012 Super S2000 World Rally Championship by finishing second on this weekend’s World Rally Sweden.

Breen, driving his Kel-Tech Engineering backed Ford Fiesta S2000, took victory on the opening round in Rallye Monte Carlo, was able to back up that performance as the championship moved to the snow covered stages in Scandinavia and now has a commanding 18 points lead at the top of the SWRC championship standings.

“I’m delighted with result,” said Breen after he crossed the finish line of the 24th and final stage. “But first I want to congratulate P-G Andersson on his win; he suffered horrible luck on the Monte when he retired with only two stages to go.

"For myself, I’m very pleased with this result; PG is on home [soil] and has shown some incredible speed here over the three days. I managed to score a few fastest stage times myself and I’m happy with my overall pace. It’s a great start to the season and now we look forward to Portugal in March.”

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