Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila kept their national flag flying high this weekend by winning their home WRC event – the Neste Oil Rally Finland. Team-mates Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured maximum points for the premier Volkswagen team by finishing a close second.
Latvala was in command of the rankings from the very start and survived a late onslaught from Sebastien Ogier on the final day (which the former started with just a 3,4-second lead). Despite the Frenchman picking up two stage victories and winning the bonus Power stage in the process, Latvala prevailed to take top honours and his 11th career WRC victory.
“It was so hard to take this victory. I was so close to losing the victory but I fought back. I was nervous today but managed to hold it together,” Latvala said.
Irishmen Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle managed to equal their best performance of the season by finishing third overall in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi DS3. Andreas Mikkelsen, in the VW Motorsport II Polo, kept his championship position by finishing fourth, ahead of the Ford Fiesta of Mikko Hirvonen.
“A podium is pretty special on the biggest rally of all. But we’re still not near perfection yet. Jari-Matti [Latvala] was the epitome of perfection all weekend in how to drive a rally car on these roads. Until I get there and try to win this rally some day, we’ll have to keep trying for perfection,” Meeke admitted.
Volkswagen maintains its stranglehold of both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship, with Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen currently locking down the top three, and Volkswagen Motorsport commanding a 175 point lead over closest rival, Citroën Total.
Can the rest of the field catch Volkswagen as it prepares for its home event, the all-tarmac ADAC Rallye Deutschland from 21 to 25 August?