Jari-Matti Latvala picks up first WRC victory of 2016 in Mexico

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Jari-Matti Latvala opened his race win account for the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship season last week in Mexico by comfortably defeating defending champion and Volkswagen teammate Sebastien Ogier.

After failing to score in either of the opening two rounds in Monte Carlo or Sweden, Latvala arrived in Mexico with a point to prove, and did so in emphatic fashion over the three days in Guanajuato.

The Finn laid the groundwork for his victory over the first two days of running, benefitting from his low starting position that saw others clear the gravel course ahead of him.

Latvala enjoyed a lead of over 90 seconds heading into the final day of running that featured an 80km stage, the longest in the WRC for 30 years.

Although Ogier was able to cut the gap by 25 seconds, Latvala finished second to ensure that he remained at the top of the overall standings before eventually finishing with an advantage of just over a minute.

“This is a fightback and it’s a fantastic feeling,” Latvala said. “I had such a difficult start to the season with two rallies and zero points. My mind wasn’t so good and this hasn’t been a strong rally for me in the past, but I drove with no problems.”

Ogier completed a one-two for Volkswagen by finishing second, while Mads Østberg completed the podium after Dani Sordo was hit with a penalty, dropping him to fourth overall.

Following the third round of the season, Ogier continues to lead at the top of the drivers’ championship by 35 points ahead of Østberg, while Andreas Mikkelsen dropped to third after retiring due to an accident.

The next WRC round takes place in Argentina from April 22-24.