Monday, 10 February 2014

Latvala fends of Mikkelsen to win in Sweden

Jari-Matti Latvala secured his first victory of the 2014 season, fending off Volkswagen team mate Andreas Mikkelsen to  win in Sweden.

The Finn finished less than a minute ahead of young Mikkelsen, whilst Citroen's Mads Ostberg completed the podium in third place. 

rounding out he top five was M-Sports Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak. Hirvonen's fourth placed finish was his best result since finishing third in Catalunya last October whilst Tanak's performance was made even more impressive givent he fact that his last WRC appearance was over a year ago.

A spin for world champion Sebastien Ogier took him out of contention. Despite leading early on, the Frenchman eventually salvaged sixth place.

Latvala jumped ahead on the second day, but his young team mate stayed close to ensure the battle for victory went down to the final day.

"[Andreas] Mikkelsen didn't make it easy on Friday - day two, he drove a strong rally and fully deserves to be on the podium" said Latvala.

With second, Andreas Mikkelsen earned his first WRC podium. The two time IRC champion was thrilled afterwards.

"I have longed so much for this result. To have achieved it practically on my doorstep is awesome!" He said. "My team, my co-driver Mikko Markkula and I have earned a beer or two today. We will celebrate in style tonight".

It was a tough event for former F1 star Robert Kubica though. The pole struggled throughout the event, his first full snow rally, and he eventually came home in 24th place.

In another trying event for the new Hyundai squad, their two drivers, Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville finished 19th and 30th respectively. Despite this, Neuville still took positives away from the event.

"I think we will look back positively on Sweden as a key rally in our ongoing development." He said. "We have been quick on some of the stages, and were close runners-up on two occasions this week, which shows great work from the team and a lot of potential for the future."

The next event on the WRC calendar is Rally Mexico which runs from 6-9 of March. 

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