Jyvaskyla, Finland - Jari-Matti Latvala has cut Volkswagen Polo team-mate and reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier's championship lead with a hard-won victory in the Rally of Finland on Sunday.
It was the third victory of the year for the 29-year-old Finn after taking the World Rally Championship rounds in Sweden and Argentina, cutting Frenchman Ogier's lead in this year's championship to 44 points with five rallies remaining.
Latvala went into the final day with a 3.4 second lead over Ogier and extended it to 3.6 seconds to take his home rally for a second time.
However, it was not without problems as Latvala had struggled with his brakes on Saturday.
“It was so hard to take this victory. I had a fantastic feeling with the driving but when I had the brake problem yesterday I was in a difficult position,” he said.
“I was so close to losing the victory but I fought back. I was nervous today but managed to hold it together.”
Ogier later tweeted: “It's a great result after a good fight. Today Jari was really flying.”
Britain's Kris Meeke in a Citroen DS3 finished third, more than 50 seconds behind the winner, for his third podium finish of the season.
“A podium is pretty special on the biggest rally of all. But we're still not near perfection yet,” he said.
“Jari-Matti was the epitome of perfection all weekend in how to drive a rally car on these roads. Until I get there and try to win this rally some day, we'll have to keep trying for perfection.” - AFP
1 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen 2hrs 57m23.2
2 Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen +3.6sec
3 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen +50.6
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen +1:52.5
5 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Ford +2:49.7
6 Juho Haenninen (Finland) Hyundai +4:29.0
7 Elfyn Evans (Britain) Ford +5:25.8
8 Hayden Paddon (New Zealand) Hyundai +6:17.8
9 Henning Solberg (Norway) Ford +12:07.0
10 Karl Kruuda (Estonia) Peugeot +14:44.7
POINTS - DRIVERS
1 Sebastien Ogier (France) Volkswagen Motorsport - 187
2. Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Volkswagen Motorsport - 143
3 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Volkswagen Motorsport II - 95
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Citroen World Rally Team - 66
5 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) M-Sport - 62
6 Kris Meeke (Britain) Citroen World Rally Team - 54
7 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai World Rally Team - 46
8 Elfyn Evans (Britain) M-Sport - 42
9 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Jipocar Czech National Team - 31
10 Henning Solberg (Norway) Henning Solberg - 26
11 Juho Haenninen (Finland) Hyundai World Rally Team - 20
12 Bryan Bouffier (France) M-Sport - 18
13 Robert Kubica (Poland) RK M-Sport - 12
14 Ott Taenak (Estonia) M-Sport - 10
15 Benito Guerra (Mexico) M-Sport - 8
16 Hayden Paddon (New Zealand) Hyundai Motorsport NZ - 8
17 Chris Atkinson (Australia) Hyundai World Rally Team - 6
18 Pontus Tidemand (Sweden) Pontus Tidemand - 4
19 Jaroslav Melicharek (Slovakia) Slovakia World Rally Team - 4
20 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Nasser Al-Attiyah - 3
21 Lorenzo Bertelli (Italy) FWRT - 2
22 Matteo Gamba (Italy) Matteo Gamba - 2
23 Craig Breen (Ireland) Peugeot Rally Academy - 2
24 Yuriy Protasov (Ukraine) Yuriy Protasov - 2
25 Karl Kruuda (Estonia) Karl Kruuda - 1
26 Jari Ketomaa (Finland) Drive Dmack - 1
27 Khalid Al Qassimi (United Arab Emirates) Citroen World Rally Team - 1
1 Volkswagen Motorsport - 305
2 Citroen World Rally Team - 130
3 M-Sport World Rally Team - 106
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II - 94
5 Hyundai World Rally Team - 88
6 Jipocar Czech National Team - 34
7 RK M-Sport World Rally Team - 21
8 Hyundai Motorsport NZ - 12