Latvala wins rain-hit Rally France

Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally France – Tour of Corsica in treacherous conditions as heavy rain and flooding on the Mediterranean island caused the cancellation of two stages.

Latvala stormed into the lead late on Saturday, overhauling long-time leader Elfyn Evans. The young Welshman set a blistering time 10 seconds faster than anyone else on Friday’s closing stage to take the lead of a WRC event for the first time. The previous stage had been cancelled due to the atrocious conditions; Evans made the best of a road that was at best difficult.

Newly-crowned champion Sebastien Ogier fell by the wayside on Friday, first picking up a puncture before gearbox issues forced him to start Saturday under Rally2 rules, incurring time penalties.

Latvala finished Friday third, 23 seconds behind. Saturday’s first stage was cancelled as well, but Latvala scorched through the next, going 21 seconds quicker than Evans. Ogier went quickest on the day’s final counter, but Latvala was once again quicker than Evans and assumed the lead, despite niggling gearbox issues.

Ogier and Dani Sordo shared the stage wins on the final day, but after their first day problems they were well out of contention. Latvala held Evans at bay to take his third win of the year and only his second on Tarmac, the first of which came on last year’s Rally France in Alsace.

He may not have been able to match his more experienced rival, but Evans’ performance was hugely impressive nonetheless, netting him his best WRC result yet.

Andreas Mikkelsen was a man on the move on Sunday as he attempted to overhaul Evans for second. But the Norwegian couldn’t quite do it, ending the rally just three seconds adrift.

Kris Meeke was a lonely fourth, ahead of Hayden Paddon on his first visit to Corsica, who has been as low as 15th on Friday. Mads Ostberg was sixth, while Sordo recovered to seventh after a first day puncture.

Previous Tour of Corsica winners Bryan Bouffier and Stephane Sarrazin were and ninth, the latter in his only WRC appearance of the year. Ott Tanak closed out the top ten.

Ogier languished down in 15th. He did at least pick up three points for winning the Power Stage, though with the championship already settled it was just a matter of pride.

The WRC heads to Spain next for the only mixed surface event of the year, on 22-25 October.

Rally France top ten finishers after 9 stages

  1. Jari-Matti Latvala — Volkswagen Motorsport/VW Polo R WRC — 2:39:46.7
  2. Elfyn Evans — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +43.1
  3. Andreas Mikkelsen — Volkswagen Motorsport II/VW Polo R — +46.3
  4. Kris Meeke — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — +1:33.4
  5. Hayden Paddon — Hyundai Motorsport N/Hyundai i20 WRC — +1:53.6
  6. Mads Ostberg — Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT/DS 3 WRC — +1:59.8
  7. Dani Sordo — Hyundai Motorsport/Hyundai i20 WRC — +2:10.4
  8. Bryan Bouffier — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +2:12.8
  9. Stephane Sarrazin — First Motorsport/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +2:39.3
  10. Ott Tanak — M-Sport WRT/Ford Fiesta RS WRC — +3:43.0

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By Only Motors

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