Latvala completes French double.
Twelve months after scoring his maiden asphalt WRC victory in France, Jari-Matti Latvala returned to repeat the feat on Sunday afternoon.
While last year’s success came in the country’s Alsace region, today’s victory in the Tour de Corse – Rallye de France was in Corsica as the event returned to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time since 2008.
Latvala became only the second Finn to win the Mediterranean island rally, following Markku Alén’s victories in 1983 and 1984. After taking the lead near the end of Saturday’s second leg, he pulled clear in today’s three speed tests to win by 43.1sec in a Volkswagen Polo R.
Surprise early leader Elfyn Evans withstood a late challenge from Andreas Mikkelsen to secure a career-best second in a Ford Fiesta RS by 3.2sec.
Torrential rain and resulting flood damage forced the cancellation of two of the nine special stages. The twisty and narrow asphalt mountain roads were treacherously slimy after the storms and survival through Friday’s opening leg was the sole aim of many.
“We’ve not had to push to the maximum at any point, but it was a faultless drive in difficult conditions. After winning last year, I have now done it again in Corsica and it’s important for me to show I can be competitive on all surfaces,” said Latvala.
His victory was especially sweet after a heavy accident during his team’s pre-event test forced his German squad to halt its preparations.
Evans led until he was overhauled by Latvala on Saturday’s final stage and started today with a 28.8sec advantage over Mikkelsen. The Volkswagen driver was on course to snatch second midway through the final stage before a late push in the last few kilometres kept Evans ahead.
Kris Meeke kept out of trouble to retain fourth in Citroën’s DS 3, ahead of Hayden Paddon. The Kiwi belied his lack of asphalt experience to climb from 15th following Friday’s opening stage to demote Mads Østberg in the penultimate stage and claim fifth in a Hyundai i20.
Dani Sordo gained four places today to finish seventh as he continued his recovery from Friday’s puncture, with the Fiesta RS cars of Bryan Bouffier, Stéphane Sarrazin and Ott Tänak completing the leaderboard.
Robert Kubica restarted after Saturday’s puncture-induced retirement and claimed two bonus points after finishing second in the live TV Power Stage.
The championship heads to Rally RACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada in Spain for the penultimate round on 22 – 25 October, the only mixed surface event of the season.
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