WRC: Latvala claims record-breaking win at Rally Finland

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Jari-Matti Latvala stormed to his second victory of the 2015 World Rally Championship season at Rally Finland on Sunday, heading up a Volkswagen one-two alongside series leader Sebastien Ogier.

Latvala took the lead of the rally on Friday following spates in front for Ogier and Britain’s Kris Meeke, and despite coming under pressure from his VW teammate, the Finn enjoyed a lead of 13.7 seconds at the end of the rally on Sunday.

The victory also saw Latvala set a new record for the fastest average speed in a WRC event. His average of 125.44kph broke the existing record of 122.89kph set by Sebastien Loeb in Finland three years ago.

“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” Latvala said. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.

“I’ve focused fully on this rally for three weeks. After my disappointment at the last round in Poland, I decided my title hopes had gone and concentrated fully on preparing for Finland. It paid off today.”

The result marked Latvala’s second win of the 2015 season, and also launched him up to second place in the drivers’ standings. He trails leader Ogier by 89 points with five rounds remaining.

Finishing second, Ogier has taken another big step towards winning a third WRC title, and looks poised to wrap it up in Australia in September.

The podium was completed by Mads Ostberg, who moves up to third place in the drivers’ standings following Andreas Mikkelsen’s retirement.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.