With the temperatures reaching 30 below and the snow and ice thick, it was studded tyres for all as the rally kicked off. With Loeb not being able to match the pace of the front-runners on the snow, there were two other battles going on.
Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen fought for the rally win. It looked to be comfortable for Latvala, until he suffered a puncture in the final stages and lost a significant chunk of his lead. Latvala answered straight back though; gaining 6 seconds on Hirvonen the stage after. Latvala finished the rally in top stop gaining 25 points for the championship.
The other battle was for the final podium spot, between Mads Østberg and Petter Solberg. This was another close fought battle, with Mads being the local expert hunting down Solberg. However a puncture very similar to that experienced by Latvala ended this battle, with Solberg losing almost 25 seconds to Østberg leaving him in 4th place overall.
The power stage was a different story, with Loeb coming out fighting and winning the stage, gaining 3 extra points to add to the 8 he gained for finishing the rally 6th overall. Petter Solberg finished the power stage in 2nd place giving him another 2 points, and Latvala added a further point to his total after finishing the power stage 3rd.
With the two Ford's of Solberg and Latvala doing so well, and Loeb finishing 6th, the championship standings are looking closer. The next rally will be Mexico on 8th-11th March, keep an eye on Simply Motor for more news.
Drivers Championship Table
Manufacturers Championship Table
|1.||Citroen Total World Rally Team||65|
|2.||Ford World Rally Team||55|
|3.||M-Sport Ford World Rally Team||28|
|4.||MINI WRC Team||26|
|5.||Qatar World Rally Team||8|
|6.||Citroen Junior World Rally Team||0|
|7.||Qatar World Rally Team||0|
|8.||Adapta World Rally Team||0|