Latvala wins Tour of Corsica

AGOSTA PLAGE, Corsica (AP) Jari-Matti Latvala won the Tour of Corsica on Sunday for his third world rally championship victory this season and 15th of his career.

The Finnish driver increased his lead over Elfyn Evans to 43.1 seconds during a day dominated by world champion Sebastien Ogier.

Ogier, who clinched his third successive WRC title after winning Rally Australia in September, retired on Friday after a gearbox failure. The Frenchman could have continued the race but was handed a 10-minute penalty and finished 15th overall, more than 9 minutes off the pace.

Latvala, who had a two-second overnight lead over Evans, mastered damp conditions and was 15.6 seconds quicker than his British rival in Sunday’s opening stage won by Ogier. The Volkswagen Polo R driver was the fourth fastest in the next special stage while Evans resisted a late challenge from Andreas Mikkelsen, who secured a third-place finish, 46.3 seconds back.

”It’s been a great weekend. We haven’t been at the maximum at any point, but we had to be careful driving in difficult conditions,” Latvala said.

The three-day race was disrupted by torrential rain that caused flooding and landslides on the Mediterranean island, forcing organizers to cancel two special stages over the first two days of racing.

It was Latvala’s second straight victory in France after his maiden asphalt success last year when the race was held in the Alsace region.

”I won the Rally de France last year, so I’m so happy to be able to win here in Corsica too,” said Latvala.

Ogier capped his frustrating weekend by posting the fastest time in the final power stage, 8.6 seconds ahead of former Formula One driver Robert Kubica.

”This is not the result we hoped for, but it’s not the end of the world,” Ogier said. ”Just a little disappointment in an otherwise exceptional season.”