Rally GB: Jari-Matti Latvala clinches win but Sebastien Loeb prevents Ford one-two
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, September 16th 2012, 13:04 GMT|
Jari-Matti Latvala clinched his first World Rally Championship victory for seven months as he dominated Rally GB, but Sebastien Loeb denied Ford a one-two.
The battle for second between Loeb's Citroen and the second Ford of Petter Solberg was the highlight of the closing day. Loeb got ahead of Solberg in the morning, lost the place again straight after lunchtime service, but then regained it on the penultimate stage. The final gap between Loeb and Solberg was just 0.9 seconds.
Both were half a minute behind Latvala, who escaped from the pack by Friday lunchtime and ended a streak of five straight Loeb victories.
Mads Ostberg - a long-time podium threat - nursed his Adapta Ford home for fourth as engine issues hit on the final leg.
Loeb's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was baffled to be a long way off the pace for most of the weekend. He finally found some speed on Sunday and was able to claim the maximum power stage bonus, but was still only fifth overall.
Ott Tanak crashed out of sixth with two stages to go, handing the place to his M-Sport Ford team-mate Evgeny Novikov.
Thierry Neuville had a very cautious run to seventh, with Matthew Wilson eighth on his WRC return. Martin Prokop finished ninth, while Chris Atkinson is currently 10th but must get his damaged Motorsport Italia Mini back to service after sustaining broken suspension on the last stage.
Ford's GB success came too late in the year to have much impact in the points battle. Loeb and Citroen look set to clinch their latest titles in France next month.
Leading finishers after SS19: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 3h03m40.3s 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 27.8s 3. Petter Solberg Ford + 28.7s 4. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 1m10.6s 5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 1m29.5s 6. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 3m37.0s 7. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 4m11.9s 8. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Ford + 6m00.4s 9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6m58.9s 10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 9m32.1s Other WRC finishers: 11. Chris Atkinson Ford + 9m37.0s 28. Jan Habig Citroen Junior + 47m32.9s WRC retirements: Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford SS17 Paolo Nobre Italia Mini SS17 Leading power stage times: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen 8m51.4s 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 1.2s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1.5s 4. Petter Solberg Ford + 2.0s 5. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 2.7s