Jari-Matti Latvala & Ford triumph in Wales

The WRC Ford M-sport team's recent intense tyre testing programme in the south of France paid dividends when its lead driver, Jari-Matti Latvala clinched his first World Rally Championship victory for seven months as he dominated Rally GB but, Citroen's Sebastien Loeb denied Ford the converted one-two.

The battle for second between Loeb's Citroen and Solberg's Ford 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 a slender 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 but finally found some pace on Sunday, enabling him to claim the maximum power stage bonus, but 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 formerly 10th failed to get his damaged WRC Team Mini Portugal back to service after sustaining broken suspension on the last stage thus handing the final points paying place to Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Qatar Citroen

Alas, Ford's GB success has come too late in the year to have much impact on the 2012 championship, meaning that Loeb and Citroen look set to clinch their latest titles in France next month.

Tom Cave the only Welsh driver competing on the international Wales Rally GB, finished the event in 14th place overall and second in the SWRC category driving for the PROTON Motorsports team, Tom and co-driver, fellow Welshman Craig Parry, drove a sensible rally to bring their Proton Satria Neo S2000 to the finish.

IRDC chairman Shaun Martin, co driven by fellow IRDC and Southern Car Club member Anthony Concannon was delighted to finish 16th after a virtually flawless performance in the national category of the event driving his ever-reliable Subaru Impreza.

Also on the national event, former triple British Champion Steve Perez with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner, brought their ever-popular Lancia Stratos home in a fantastic eighth position overall and in doing so, took two-wheel drive honours by two minutes over his nearest rival also winning the historic class too. The iconic 1974 Italian machine now resplendent in the attractive Amigos Tequila-flavoured beer branding.

Final Positions

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

16th September, 2012