14 August 2015 ~ 0 Comments

The Flying Finn: Latvala takes second consecutive Rally Finland win

2015 Volkswagen Polo R WRC, Rally Finland: Latvala/Anttila

After a disappointing 2015 World Rally Championship season so far, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Finnish drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila took the win at their home event, Rally Finland, which was staged from 30 July to 2 August.

In front of thousands of jubilant spectators, the pair finished the event at an average speed of 125.44km/h and claimed best times on half of the 20 Special Stages. Their overall lead over second-placed team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was 13.7 seconds.

‘Kings of Speed’
Latvala and Anttila’s victory in the canopy-lined forests of Finland makes it their third. The new-found ‘Kings of Speed’, the pair have now scored fastest times on both gravel and tarmac events. The Finns moved into the lead at Rally Finland during the legendary ‘Ouninpohja’ stage and clocked Latvala’s 400th stage win of his career, as well as the fastest speed of 132.18 km/h.

Taking second place in the final ‘Myhinpää’ power stage, Latvala and Anttila scored another two points towards their Drivers’ Championship standings. Ogier and Ingrassia were victorious, however, and took the full three points. It was the French duo’s 23rd power stage success and the 26th for Volkswagen Motorsport.

Celebratory mood
‘I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am,’ said a Latvala, in celebratory mood. ‘This win means all the more to me after all the ups and downs this season. My motivation coming into this rally and my desire to win were immense.

‘After all the ups and downs I’ve been through this season, this victory means a huge amount. I would like to thank the entire team for its great work. They have always believed in me, even in times when things have not run so smoothly,’ he continued.

‘Incredible duel’
While he wasn’t the winner, Ogier was pleased with his runner-up result: ‘It was an incredible duel. I think we put on a great show for the fans. Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka. They were really strong all weekend. I said before the rally that Jari-Matti would be the man to beat at his home rally.

‘As always Julien and I did our best, but, like last year, Jari-Matti and Miikka were just too good in Finland. Despite this I am more than happy with second place, as we have extended our lead in the overall standings. Even without the fine second place, the Rally Finland was once again a fantastic experience,’ the Frenchman remarked.

Severe damage
Sadly, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene weren’t quite so lucky in the Finnish forests. The Norwegian pair came off the road and rolled their Polo R WRC several times at high speed on the fifth stage. Although unhurt, the damage to the car was too severe to be able to repair the car on-site and rejoin the event under Rally 2 regulations.

Mikkelsen was understandably disappointed: ‘We had set our sights very high for Rally Finland. Above all, we wanted to defend second place in the World Championship – and to extend our advantage if possible. Unfortunately, however, today was not our day. My pace notes were a little too optimistic on the fifth stage. I lifted in a long left-hander with a slight crest, which can be taken flat-out in perfect conditions.

‘However, that did not prove to be enough. We ran out of road and rolled several times. We are obviously very disappointed that the damage was too great to be able to repair it on-site. We will now look ahead and turn our full attention to Volkswagen’s home round in Germany,’ the young Norwegian disclosed.

Fastest WRC event
The Finnish event was the fastest ever WRC rally ever recorded and marked Volkswagen Motorsport’s 13th one-two result. Volkswagen Motorsport is now 116 points ahead in the 2015 Manufacturers’ Championship. His win in Finland has catapulted Latvala up the leaderboard from fourth to second place with a total of 93 points.

With five events still to go, Ogier is 89 points ahead of his Finnish team-mate and could bag the 2015 championship (and his and VW’s third consecutive title) at the next round of the WRC, Rally Germany on 20-23 August. It’s an event which Volkswagen hasn’t yet conquered since its 2013 debut, so all eyes will be on the German team in the vineyards of the Trier region.

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

RALLY FINLAND FINAL RESULTS

1 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (FIN/FIN), Volkswagen: 2h 33m 03.8s
2 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (F/F), Volkswagen: + 13.7s
3 Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (N/S), Citroën: + 1m 36.8s
4 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (B/B), Hyundai: + 3m 58.7s
5 Ott Tänak/Raigo Mõlder (EST/EST), Ford: + 4m 29.3s

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Sébastien Ogier, 182
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, 93
3 Mads Østberg, 84
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, 83
5 Thierry Neuville, 70

2015 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP,

MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

1 Volkswagen Motorsport, 257
2 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, 141
3 Hyundai Motorsport, 139
4 M-Sport, 126
5 Volkswagen Motorsport II, 49

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