Jari-Matti Latvala wins in Sweden

After taking control of the Rally Sweden on Friday afternoon and driving faultlessly on Saturday, Jari-Matti Latvala pulled clear of the chasing pack to claim his third win in Sweden, ahead of VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who secured a maiden WRC podium with second place after fighting off a late charge from Mads Ostberg; the Norwegans locked in the rally's most entertaining battle as it entered its conclusion.

Mikkelsen had led the rally intermittently but lost time to Latvala with an error on the final morning that cost him 30 seconds and put Ostberg less than 20s behind. He then looked as though he might crack under the pressure being applied by the Citroen driver as he dropped five seconds on SS22, but rallied to hold on to the place with relative comfort. Victory on the powerstage was some consolation for Ostberg, who had taken his first stage win for Citroen earlier in the event.

Sebastien Ogier in the third VW had thrown away all chance of victory earlier in the rally by getting stuck in a snow bank while in the lead and lost more than four minutes on Friday, dropping outside the top 20, but characteristically fought back to sixth place on the penultimate stage.

The M-Sport Fords of Mikko Hirvonen and Ott Tanak had been in the mix in the early stages but dropped back from the leaders following an indifferent final day, though they retained fourth and fifth respectively. Their team-mate Robert Kubica endured a character-building rally, crashing several times, including on the final powerstage.

Kris Meeke looked set to finish sixth for much of the rally, but he spun on SS18 and got stuck in a ditch. He recovered to 10th place by the end, helped by Elfyn Evans crashing out on the last stage. For the second rally in succession, Hyundai showed promise before both cars hit problems. Thierry Neuville and team-mate Juho Hanninen crashed on Friday morning and afternoon respectively having run in the top eight throughout Thursday.

Jari-Matti Latvala's win on Rally Sweden now sees him in the lead of the 2014 World Rally Championship, five points ahead of his team leader and current champion Sebastien Ogier.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jari-Matti Latvala VW 3h00m31.1s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +53.6s
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen +59.5s
4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +2m26.9s
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford +3m00.5s
6. Sebastien Ogier VW +4m29.9s
7. Henning Solberg M-Sport Ford +4m47.5s
8. Pontus Tidemand M-Sport Ford +5m38.2s
9. Craig Breen Kel-Tech Ford +8m55.4s
10. Kris Meeke Citroen +11m18.0s

9th February, 2014