Published on February 15th, 2017 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Toyota takes 1st win since 1999 in its 2017 WRC return
Jari-Matti Latvala has won Rally Sweden to give Toyota its first WRC win since 1999, just two rallies into its WRC comeback. The result saw the Toyota driver move into the World Rally Championship lead after inheriting the lead of the rally when Thierry Neuville crashed his until then dominant Hyundai out of the lead of his second WRC rally in a row in Saturday evening’s last stage of the day.
Neuville’s demise turned what had been an intense battle for second became, into a fight for victory. Ott Tanak had scythed into Latvala’s lead on Saturday, while Ogier bounced back after sweeping the roads on Friday to end Saturday 12.8 seconds behind Latvala. Latvala however extended his lead over 20 seconds before the Power Stage as Tanak struggled with a loose-rear end on his Ford Fiesta and teammate Ogier fell out of the fight with a spin at the first corner of the first stage on Sunday.
That left the Toyota to win from Tanak and Ogier, as Latvala also beat Ogier to the Power Stage for a maximum points haul. Dani Sordo salvaged fourth for Hyundai in the end from a struggling Craig Breen (Citroen), Elfyn Evans’s third Ford and Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon ahead of Stephane Lefebvre’s 2016-spec Citroen.
Neuville had hit a post in Monte Carlo, breaking his suspension, and on Saturday he hit a concrete block on the super special while sitting in a 40 second lead with only three stages to run. Like Neuville, Kris Meeke crashed out of his second rally in a row on Saturday afternoon, while Mads Ostberg struggled and Juho Hanninen hit a tree on Friday in the second Toyota.
Skoda driver Pontus Tidemand won his home round in WRC2, heading Teemu Suninen and Ole Christian Veiby.
2017 Rally Sweden results:
- Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota 2m36m03.6s
- Ott Tanak Ford +29.2s
- Sebastien Ogier Ford +59.5s
- Dani Sordo Hyundai +2m11.5s
- Craig Breen Citroen +2m51.2s
- Elfyn Evans Ford +5m26.6s
- Hayden Paddon Hyundai +5m31.2s
- Stephane Lefebvre Citroen+7m14.7s
- Pontus Tidemand Skoda +9m11.1s
- Teemu Suninen Ford +10m02.9s
WRC Points standings:
- Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota 48
- Sebastien Ogier Ford 44
- Ott Tanak Ford 33
- Dani Sordo Hyundai 25
- Craig Breen Citroen 20
- Elfyn Evans Ford 18