Jari-Matti Latvala provides Toyota first FIA World Rally Championship title since 1999

Jari-Matti Latvala

Toyota’s driver Jari-Matti Latvala pulled off an upset victory in Rally Sweden on Sunday after runaway leader Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville met an accident and Latvala proceeded to win the first FIA World Rally Championship title for Toyota since 1999.

Interestingly, Latvala was supposed to miss out the season after his Volkswagen team stepped out of the WRC at the end of 2016. However, the Finnish driver ended up partnering with Toyota. Consequently, first, Team Toyota made its comeback to the WRC in 2017 after an 18-year of non-existence with Latvala finishing second in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

The overwhelmed Toyota when thought they had enough for its comeback run, Latvala produced one more fantastic win in Sweden earning Toyota a comeback championship title.

Holy cow! The comeback-curse on the sporting world follows.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain

Latvala had been a step behind Hyundai’s driver Thierry Neuville for the most of the rally, only for the 28-year-old Belgian to lose control on Saturday’s super special stage and fall back in the race. Neuville was 46 seconds ahead when he broke his steering on his i20 Coupe.

Latvala kicked the final leg with a narrow 3.8 second lead over Ford’s driver Ott Tänak after rally leader Thierry Neuville’s Saturday night crash. The Estonian lost his upper hand over Latvala after conceding seven seconds in the special opening stage. Then Latvala bagged all three snow and ice-covered speed tests in his Yaris World Rally Car to extend the gap to 29.2 seconds.

After the 17th career victory, Latvala wrote on Twitter:

With the new team, new car, and second consecutive rally victory Jari-Matti Latvala is all set to for the WRC’s first gravel rally of the season at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on 9 – 12 March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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