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2012-02-11 22:16

CRYSTALS CLEARED: Finland's Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen raise their own snowstorm in a Citroen DS3 during the Hagfors Sprint, Stage 14 the WRC Rally of Sweden, on February 11, 2012. Image: AFP

Alan Baldwin

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala will go into the final day of the Rally of Sweden on Sunday with a 23sec lead over fellow Finn and former team mate Mikko Hirvonen after extending his advantage on Saturday.

Latvala, who was 16.8sec clear of his Citroen rival at the start of the second leg, managed his tyres carefully on roads with thinning snow. He now has just 84.84km between him and a second victory in the event, the second race of the World championship.


Norway's Petter Solberg, the former champion who is now Latvala's Ford team mate, was in third place and 51.4sec off the lead.

Solberg faced a tough battle with compatriot Mads Ostberg, 11.1sec behind in fourth spot for Ford.

Eight-times champion Sebastien Loeb, who won the Monte Carlo 2012 season-opener in January month but ran into a snow bank on Friday, moved up to sixth place from seventh but was nearly three minutes behind Latvala.

There was more misery for Frenchman Loeb on Saturday when he spun early on and then suffered a puncture on the 17th stage, dropping him back temporarily.

"Anything is possible tomorrow but we didn't have a very good day," he told the World Rally championship website (www.wrc.com).

Loeb shared victory on the final Hagfors sprint stage of the day with Estonian Ott Tanak.

There will be six more stages on Sunday before the ceremonial finish in Karlstad.

Rally of Sweden results at end of Saturday's action:

1 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) 2h30min08.0
2 Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citröen DS3) +23.0
3 Petter Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) +51.4
4 Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford) +1min02.5
5 Evgeny Novikov (RUS/Ford Fiesta RS) +2:13.1
6 Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citröen DS3) +2:57.5
7 Henning Solberg (NOR/Ford) +3:02.4
8 Patrik Sandell (SWE/Mini) +4:31.8
9 Martin Prokop (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) +4:34.4
10 Eyvind Brynildsen (NOR/Ford Fiesta) +5:08.7
11 Sébastien Ogier (FRA/Skoda Fabia) +5:54.1

Stage winners
Sordo 1 (SS1), Latvala 6 (SS2, SS8, SS11, SS12, SS15, SS16)
Ostberg 1 (SS2)
Loeb 3 (SS3, SS6, SS18)
Hirvonen 5 (SS4, S5, SS7, SS13, SS17)
Solberg 2 (SS9, SS10)
Tanak 2 (SS14, SS18).


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