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Rally Finland: Jari-Matti Latvala leads shakedown for Volkswagen

Jari-Matti Latvala, VW, Finland WRC 2014

Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Thursday morning's Rally Finland shakedown stage and is now focused on re-establishing home domination of the event.

Rally Finland has traditionally been one of the toughest events for non-Finns to win, but it is now four years since the locals celebrated Latvala's 2010 victory.

Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have locked out the top step of the podium in Jyvaskyla for the last three rallies.

"I'm happy with shakedown," Latvala told AUTOSPORT. "And I was very happy with the test, everything is feeling good right now.

"I'm really, really happy with the car. I feel confident.

"We need a Finn to win this rally. We need to keep the passion up for this rally. If we don't have a Finnish driver winning the rally then the passion can go down and then, maybe, the people won't come any more."

Latvala is in the strongest position to take a second home win, with M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen - also a former winner - also among the favourites.

The Ford Fiesta driver was fifth fastest at shakedown and admitted he wasn't surprised at the recent lack of local domination.

"This event's not so strong for us anymore," he said. "With the other guys doing such a good recce and then with the use of onboard videos, maybe the advantage has gone a little bit. But I feel good and, of course I want to win."

Norway's Mads Ostberg was second fastest at shakedown in his Citroen, six tenths of a second down on Latvala's Polo.

Ostberg is in confident mood ahead of the start.

"I want to challenge for the win," he said. "We have found some more things on the car which has helped me to go faster and I am feeling more and more comfortable with the car all the time."

Andreas Mikkelsen continued his fine run of form with third fastest, while Henning Solberg went fourth quickest on his fifth run at the stage.

Juho Hanninen was the top Hyundai runner in sixth fastest, just ahead of Robert Kubica and Kris Meeke.

Reigning world champion Ogier was 10th fastest, completing just the two regulation runs.

Follow Rally Finland as it unfolds with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live all weekend. Coverage starts at 2pm UK time today

Leading shakedown times:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car      Time     Gap
 1.  Jari-Matti Latvala  VW            2m26.1s
 2.  Mads Ostberg        Citroen       2m26.7s  +0.6s
 3.  Andreas Mikkelsen   VW            2m27.0s  +0.9s
 4.  Henning Solberg     M-Sport Ford  2m27.7s  +1.6s
 5.  Mikko Hirvonen      M-Sport Ford  2m27.9s  +1.8s
 6.  Juho Hanninen       Hyundai       2m28.2s  +2.1s
 7.  Robert Kubica       M-Sport Ford  2m28.4s  +2.3s
 8.  Kris Meeke          Citroen       2m28.4s  +2.3s
 9.  Jarkko Nikara       M-Sport Ford  2m28.9s  +2.8s
10.  Sebastien Ogier     VW            2m29.0s  +2.9s
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