MOTOR RALLY: Latvala wins second successive Rally of GB
CARDIFF: Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala of Ford won the Rally of Great Britain, the 10th leg of the World Rally Championship, ahead of France's Sebastien Loeb on Sunday.
Also victorious in last year's race, Latvala led practically from the start to finish 27.8 seconds ahead of championship leader and eight-time world champion Loeb, with Latvala's Norwegian teammate Petter Solberg a further 0.9s back in third place.
The result prevented Citroen from claiming victory in the constructors' championship, but both Citroen and Loeb will expect to be crowned champions at the Rally of France in Alsace on Oct 4-7.
Despite a late fightback on Sunday, Loeb was unable to undo the damage inflicted during the first two days of the race, when Ford proved more adept at handling the slippery roads in the south Wales countryside.
He did, however, succeed in overhauling Solberg, who began the day more than six seconds in front of him.
Latvala recorded the seventh victory of his career and his second win this season, after a previous success in Sweden.
It enabled Ford to bring an end to a run of five straight victories for the all-conquering Loeb, who is nonetheless closing in on his ninth successive World Championship crown.
"This is a fantastic feeling," Latvala told wrc.com.
"It's one of my favourite rallies, I won it last year and it feels amazing to win again after such a big battle.
"To be honest this victory is for the team. They have done so much work on the car and it was working so well on this rally.
"I was really happy with the set-up and it was a great performance."
Loeb was delighted to have made up ground and paved the way for winning both world titles back in France.
"We can win the title in Alsace, like two years ago," said Loeb.
Solberg was left frustrated.
"I would liked to have beaten him (Loeb) but I lost too much time in the morning," he said.
Fourth place went to Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) while the second works Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen came fifth.
Hirvonen is now the only man who can deny teammate Loeb his ninth world title in a row, but with a 61-point lead the Frenchman is poised to finish the job on home soil. AFP