After losing out to Sebastien Ogier in the Monte Carlo Rally last month, Jari-Matti Latvala bounced back to claim victory in Rally Sweden in the Toyota Yaris WRC. The win, Toyota’s first in 17 years (since the 1999 Rally China, in fact), means that the Finn now leads the driver’s championship by four points over Ogier.

Latvala inherited a lead of just 3.8 seconds over Ogier’s M-Sport teammate Ott Tänak at the end of the third day after leader Thierry Neuville crashed his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC during the night. The Toyota driver extended his lead to 29.2 seconds after winning all three stages on the final day yesterday.

“It’s amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we’re winning. I have no words to describe it, I’m so emotional. We’re at a good level but now we go forward and it gets more difficult. Mexico is next up and I’m really motivated for the championship,” Latvala said.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

It was a rough Sunday for M-Sport – Tänak, having kept pace with the leaders all week and was closing in on the third day, was not happy with the handling of his Ford Fiesta WRC after he lost seven seconds on the first stage alone; Ogier spun on the same stage and finished the day third overall, 30.3 seconds behind Tänak. However, the team still leads the constructor’s championship by 20 points over Toyota.

Behind him, Hyundai’s Dani Sordo clinched fourth place ahead of Citroën’s Craig Breen, who made his debut with the new C3 WRC, while Elfyn Evans took sixth in another Fiesta despite a puncture on Friday and an engine misfire on yesterday’s opening stage. Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon, Citroën’s Stéphane Lefebvre and WRC2 drivers Pontus Tidemand and Teemu Suninen completed the top 10.

Neuville eventually finished 13th after, having pulled clear of Latvala on Saturday with a 43.3-second lead, crashed out on the final stage of the day and broke his suspension, tearing a wheel off in the process – the second such incident after Monte Carlo. Ahead of him was Citroën’s Kris Meeke, who also went off the road on Saturday and then added insult to injury with a spin on the penultimate round.