Flying Finn Latvala claims Swedish rally title

Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala won the Rally of Sweden near Hagfors in western Sweden on Sunday, clinching the sixth win of his career and the second in Sweden.

Flying Finn Latvala claims Swedish rally title

The Ford driver was leading going into the final day and he finished 16.6 seconds clear of compatriot Mikko Hirvonen in a Citroen, with Norway’s Mads Ostberg in a Ford taking third place after overtaking compatriot Petter Solberg.

Such was Latvala’s command on the final day that even a puncture three stages from the end when he hit a rock did not cost him the lead.

Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb of France, who won the season-opening rally in Monte Carlo, finished well back in sixth place after a spin and puncture took the wind out of his sails. He still leads in the overall standings though.

“It is amazing. Four years ago I won this rally and now I got it again,” Latvala said.

“The first time I won this rally I became the youngest ever winner of a world championship rally and beat my hero Henri Toivonen’s record. It’s fantastic to win it again.

“We got a lot of pressure after Monte Carlo and I felt the pressure coming to this event. This has taken a lot of pressure out of the coming events.

“I think we’re really going to challenge Citroen. We’re working very hard.”

Second-placed Hirvonen said he still had plenty to be pleased with despite just missing out on the win.

“It’s not too bad. I think we learned a lot this weekend,” he said.

“Okay, I really did want to win this rally for the team but Jari-Matti was very strong this weekend. We had a fantastic fight and I really enjoyed it, but it’s second this time.”

The world championship circuit next moves on to Mexico with a rally from March 6th-11th.

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Five injured in Sweden as rally car crashes into crowd

Five people were injured in Sweden on Saturday when a rallycross car veered off a racetrack during a race and crashed into a crowd of spectators, police said.

Five injured in Sweden as rally car crashes into crowd
A file photo of a previous rally event in Sweden. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

“There are five injured who have been transported to hospital. Two are reported to be lightly injured, and three seriously injured,” Stockholm police said in a statement.

“The driver of the car is one of the injured.”

The cause of the accident, which occurred at the Ticksta racetrack in Rimbo north of Stockholm, was not immediately known.

So-called “folk racing” is a form of rally popular in the Nordic countries, run with standard, inexpensive cars on special gravel or tarmac tracks of 2.4 kilometres.

READ ALSO: Mild weather plays havoc with Nordic car rally