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Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Sunday, 10 February 2008

Latvala seals historic rally win

Jari-Matti Latvala
Latvala led since the end of the second stage on Friday

Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala became the youngest winner of a world championship event when he claimed victory in the Rally of Sweden.

The Ford driver, 22, enjoyed a stunning drive to finish 58 seconds ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

With world champion Sebastien Loeb having retired after a crash on stage 12, Ford completed a clean sweep on the podium with Gigi Galli claiming third.

Britain's Matthew Wilson went out on stage 19 in difficult conditions.

Ford driver Wilson stopped 5km into the penultimate stage of the rally.

The Englishman, who was fifth overall, managed to complete the stage despite his throttle problems, but later retired on the road section to stage 20.

Hirvonen leads the drivers' standings on 16 points ahead of France's Sebastien Loeb, with Latvala in third.


Latvala becomes the youngest driver to win a WRC rally, a record previously held by Finnish rally legend Henri Toivonen, who died in 1986.

It was the Finn's second podium finish, having previously broken into the top three during the Rally of Ireland in November last year.

"It's a super feeling, It's almost unbelievable," Latvala said.

"Henri [Toivonen] was one of my idols and secretly I've always wanted to beat his record as the youngest winner.

"The rally started so well from the first stage. We've made no mistakes, the car has been absolutely perfect and I've been able to control the speed - I'm really happy about that.

"I feel very comfortable now, this result has given me a lot of self confidence and I'm really looking forward to Mexico."

The last day's driving was dominated by Norway's Henning Solberg, but his charge failed to threaten the leaders after a crash on Saturday had set him back too far in the overall timings.

Swedish rally classification
1 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford 2 hrs 46:41.200 secs
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Ford +00:58.300
3 Gianluigi Galli (Italy) Ford 02:23.200
4 Petter Solberg (Norway) Subaru 02:59.400
5 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Ford 05:46.000
6 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Citroen 07:13.100
7 Toni Gardemeister (Finland) Suzuki 10:35.300
8 Juho Haenninen (Finland) Mitsubishi 12:27.500
9 Mads Oestberg (Norway) Subaru 13:28.500
10 Jari Ketomaa (Finland) Subaru 13:50.700

see also
Latvala edges towards first win
09 Feb 08 |  Rallying
Latvala profits as Loeb pulls out
08 Feb 08 |  Rallying
Loeb begins title quest with win
27 Jan 08 |  Rallying

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