05 August 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Finn-ally! Latvala delivers spectacular drive to take 2014 Rally Finland win

2014 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Finland: Latvala/Anttila

Finally (or should that be Finn-ally)! Breaking a four-year non-Finnish win run, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila reigned supreme at the 2014 Neste Oil Rally Finland, taking victory in their Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

The Finnish pairing won their home rally taking the victory all the way to the line, enduring a thrilling battle with team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. The margin of victory? 3.6 seconds.

Latvala was dominant in the second day of the Finnish event, but suffered a setback in the afternoon. A large pothole damaged a brake line and his Polo R WRC had no braking on the front right-hand wheel, losing him and Anttila 27 seconds from his overall lead.

With a slimmed-down lead of just 3.4 seconds, the Finn summoned up tenacity and a determined spirit on the final day, demonstrating his driving skills to take a commanding victory.

But it was the tense and close duel between Latvala/Anttila and Ogier/Ingrassia which was the main story of Rally Finland, with 25 of the 26 possible best times being scored by one or the other of the two Volkswagen duos.

Only Citroën’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle managed to keep up with the Volkswagen pairs, finishing third.

Latvala was thrilled with his victory: ‘This win in Finland is a very special moment for Miikka and me. We last managed to do this in 2010, and this win feels twice as good considering our disappointing result last year. I had a good feeling in the Polo R WRC right from the start of the rally, and the car was set up perfectly once again.

‘And I would, of course, also like to thank all the fans who supported Miikka and me throughout the rally here in Finland. This win was a tough cookie, though. We were in a bit of a predicament on Saturday evening when we were no longer able to use one of our brakes.

‘Nevertheless, we didn’t give up and we kept on fighting. I’m really very happy about this result.’

Latvala and Ogier were in no doubt ‘on it’ in Finland, with both hitting a top speed of 200km/h numerous times. Add the jumps – some as far as 60 metres long – blind crests and corners, and the drivers had to be concentrating for maximum precision.

Ogier was pleased for his team-mate: ‘I think the fans and also we will remember this Rally Finland for a long time to come. I may not have won, but it was still a fantastic final with a great battle all the way to the very last second. Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka, who really deserved this win in their home country.

‘They were simply unbeatable this time. I already knew this morning that reducing their lead would be difficult. When you drive almost an entire stage at full speed, you can’t even make good a 3.4-second deficit if the driver in front doesn’t make any mistakes.

‘Julien and I took all the risks we could in the penultimate stage, but Jari-Matti matched our pace.’

Volkswagen Motorsport’s success at Rally Finland was rounded out by Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene finishing in fourth place. The outfit from Hannover therefore equalled its best team result to date in the World Rally Championship (WRC) last set at Rally Argentina.

It all means that the elements are in place for Volkswagen to take all three WRC titles for the manufacturer, the driver, and the co-driver. As soon as the next event, Rally Germany, which runs from 21-24 August.

Mikkelsen was happy to finish in the top five drivers at Rally Finland: ‘Once again, Rally Finland was a very special rally, and is considered to be one of the most demanding rallies in the WRC calendar due to its particular traits. Ola and I are therefore very happy with fourth place.

‘From Saturday, we were in a comfortable position overall, with a good time buffer to hold off our closest rival. We were therefore able to tackle the final day in a controlled manner, but we still wanted to attack during the Power Stage in order to be in with a chance of scoring a few bonus points for the championship.

‘In the end, we finished in fourth place, but are happy with our performance overall. Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka on winning Rally Finland. They very much deserved to win.’

The Finnish one-two result sees Volkswagen extended its lead in the manufacturers’ points table by 175 over Citroën. If the German company succeeds in defending a 172-point lead at Rally Germany, the manufacturers’ title will go the Wolfsburg team once again.

Similarly, if Ogier and Ingrassia have a lead of 112 points (currently 121 points ahead) after Rally Germany over their nearest non-VW rivals, they too will take the drivers’ titles for the second year in a row.

‘To my knowledge, there’s no one in the service park who doesn’t think Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila deserved this emotional home victory. I’m especially delighted for them today because they worked hard for this success and achieved it on the basis of immense willpower – in spite of some minor setbacks,’ commented Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director.

‘We experienced the best Jari-Matti Latvala of all time, with an entirely new attitude towards rallying – highly focused, but relaxed at the same time. He was in his own world while he was driving and only his teammate Sébastien Ogier was able to keep up with him to the end.

‘Andreas Mikkelsen likewise drove brilliantly and clinched fourth place in this highly demanding rally – fantastic.

‘This one-two victory gives us the opportunity to secure the manufacturers’ championship title before the end of the season during Rally Germany. And we would obviously like to do that in style, preferably with a rally win. We have to make up for last year’s result at home.’

The week before the main event, the WRC teams took part in the ‘Neste Oil Helsinki Battle’ where current drivers raced against Finnish rally legends in front of 35,000 spectators. Rally Finland also marked the 250th stage win for the 315bhp all-wheel drive Polo R WRC since Volkswagen joined the WRC in January 2013.

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY FINLAND FINAL RESULTS


1 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: 2h 57m 23.2s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 3.6s

3 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (GB/IRL), Citroën: + 50.6s

4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (N/N), Volkswagen: + 1m 52.5s

5 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/FIN), Ford: + 2m 49.7s

2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Sébastien Ogier, 187

2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 143

3 Andreas Mikkelsen, 95

4 Mads Østberg, 66

5 Mikko Hirvonen, 62



2014 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS


1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 305

2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 130

3 M-Sport, 106

4 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 94

5 Hyundai Motorsport, 88

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