Jari-Matti Latvala swept to a shock victory in Rally Sweden on Sunday, claiming Toyota’s first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship since 1999.
Toyota returned to the WRC in 2017 after an 18-year absence, with Latvala finishing second upon its comeback in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.
The result took many at Toyota by surprise, but the Finn was able to go one better in Sweden this past weekend and claim
Latvala had been running second for much of the rally behind runaway leader Thierry Neuville, only for the Hyundai driver to lose a wheel on Saturday’s super special stage and drop back in the process.
Neuville’s demise turned the battle for second between Latvala and M-Sport’s Ott Tanak into the battle for victory, with Latvala able to eke out an advantage in the stages that followed.
Come Sunday, Latvala was able to complete the rally with an advantage of almost half a minute over Tanak, as well as winning the final power stage to pick up five bonus points.
“It’s amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we’re winning,” Latvala said.
“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.”
The result marked the 17th victory of Latvala’s WRC career – four of which have now come in Sweden – and extends his record of winning at least once each season since 2008.
Latvala moves into the lead of the drivers’ championship with victory ahead of Sebastien Ogier, who rounded out the podium in Sweden behind Tanak in second place.
The WRC season resumes in one month’s time with Rally Mexico.