Latvala keeps clear of Hirvonen

Jari-Matti Latvala is on its way to victory in Rally Sweden. The Finn extended his lead on Saturday’s stages and looks to be heading for his second triumph in the competition. Runner-up for Sunday’s final stages are Mikko Hirvonen and for the third place fight Norwegians Petter Solberg and Mads Østberg.

The second leg of Rally Sweden did not offer any space parcels in the top. Ford driver Latvala won the largest number of routes and extended his lead.
– The car works perfectly and I have a good feeling in the body, said Latvala, who received his big break in 2008 when he took his first WRC victory in just Rally Sweden.

Now he looks to be heading for a new triumph, and he needs it. Latvala retired from the Monte Carlo Rally, and were left without points.

Mikko Hirvonen has won Rally Sweden the past two years. Both times for Ford. Now he drives Citroen and does it well. Hirvonen has really tried to challenge his countryman, but for Sunday’s six sections, he is 23 seconds behind.
– I can not push much harder than this. We are really close to the border, admitted Hirvonen on Saturday.

Petter Solberg started World Cup season with an impressive third in his comeback for Ford. Third place is the Norwegian position even after two days of competing in Rally Sweden. The experienced Solberg may, however, watch out. Only 11 seconds behind him he has his countryman Mads Østberg. They look both keen to make up about who will receive the third prize out of Prince Carl Philips hand in the main square in Karlstad on Sunday afternoon.

Behind the two Norwegians follow Russian Evgeny Novikov and reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb. The latter is waging a fierce battle for sixth place with Henning Solberg. After 17 routes had the exact same total time – on the tenth! Prior to Sunday’s restart the Frenchman a lead of 4.9 seconds.

A tough duel about the 8ht place in the competition is between Patrik Sandell and Czech Martin Prokop.
– It’s a fight I look forward to, said Sandell, whose Saturday started a little tentatively.
– But then it went better and better and I could run faster and faster on each leg, said a satisfied Sandell.

In the Super 2000 class, it is double up for Volkswagen Motorsport, just like after Friday’s routes. Sébastien Ogier tops the team mate, a Norwegian, Andreas Mikkelsen.
Neither of the two is notified in the World Cup class SWRC where PG Andersson is headed for a full jackpot before Craig Breen and Pontus Tidemand.

Rally Sweden after the second leg (18 out of 24 special stages):
1) Jari-Matti Latvala, Finland, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2.30.08,0
2) Mikko Hirvonen, Finland, Citroen DS3 WRC, + 23.0 sec
3) Petter Solberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 51.4
4) Mads Østberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 1.02,5
5) Evgeny Novikov, Russia, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 2.13,1
6) Sebastien Loeb, France, Citroen DS3 WRC, + 2.57,5
7) Henning Solberg, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 3.02,4
8) Sandell, Sweden, the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, + 4.31,8
9) Martin Prokop, Czech Republic, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 4.34,4
10) Eyvind Brynildsen, Norway, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC, + 5.08,7
11) Sébastien Ogier, France, Skoda Fabia S2000, + 5.54,1


Photo: McKlein