2017 Rally Sweden: Victory for Jari-Matti Latvala and Toyota
Jari-Matti Latvala wins 2017 Rally Sweden with #10 Toyota Yaris WRC and writes his name in a historic books of the biggest Japanese car manufacturer. Latvala’s win is the first for Toyota after more than seventeen years of waiting. The last Toyota’s WRC winner was Didier Auriol in September 1999 at China Rally. Toyota’s return to World Rally Championship started with a podium at Rallye Monte Carlo in January and now Latvala brings maiden win for all-new 380-hp Yaris WRC. This is 17th WRC victory in Latvala’s career and his fourth win at Rally Sweden.
Another disappointing event for Neuville
Latvala was unexpectedly promoted to P1 at the end of Saturday, when Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville reapeated a tragic scenario from Monte-Carlo, ruining his two-day effort with a mistake at short Karlstad’s Superspecial stage. Same as in Monte-Carlo, Neuville was the fastest driver, scoring six stage wins until SS14 and having a massive 43.3-second advantage over Latvala. But, speed is not everything, avoiding mistakes is as much as important.
Tanak’s stage win with 137.8 km/h of average speed
Neuville’s misfortune promoted Ford’s Ott Tanak to P2, just 3.8 seconds behind Latvala. Everybody expected a close fight for the win on the last day, but Tanak had no enough speed. Latvala won both morning stages, entering the Power Stage with 20-second advantage. Tanak was the fastest on four stages on Friday and Saturday, including 31.6-km long Knon stage on Saturday morning, where he reached an incredible average speed of 137.8 km/h. As it was too fast compared to other stages, FIA and organizers cancelled the second pass through Knon due to safety concerns.
Podium for reigning champion Sebastien Ogier
Reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier in the #1 Ford Fiesta RS WRC didn’t win any stage until the Power Stage but he showed a consistency and finished on the podium. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Craig Breen (Citroen) completed the Top 5. Elfyn Evans brough his Fiesta to sixth-place finish, ahead of Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) and Stephane Lefebvre in the last year’s Citroen DS3 WRC.
Latvala won Power Stage, Ostberg won Colin’s Crest Award
Jari-Matti Latvala earned additional five points by winning the Power Stage, being faster than Ogier by 1.2 seconds and increasing a gap over Tanak to 29.2 seconds. Other Power Stage point-scorers are Thierry Neuville, Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon.
Mads Ostberg missed to score a good overall result in his first outing with new Ford Fiesta RS WRC, but he became the hero of the masses by winning the contest for the longest jump at legendary Colin’s Crest. In his first pass over Vargasen stage, he jumped 42 meters. In the second pass, Ostberg jumped 44 meters, missing the outright record for one meter.
The next WRC round is Rally Mexico on March 9-12.