BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala secured second place in the FIA World Rally Driver’s Championship following his third place finish at Wales Rally GB this weekend.
Elsewhere, the UAE’s Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi finished outside of the points in 11th place, but still enjoyed his best ever season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a career-high haul of twelve points to finish in 12th place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Whilst Team Abu Dhabi junior drivers Bader Al Jabri and Majed Al Shamsi triumphantly concluded the Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi) in second and fourth position.
At the head of the field Latvala spent the weekend embroiled in a two-way tussle for second place in the championship with privateer Petter Solberg. Entering the final day of action the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) – backed Finnish driver lay in fourth position behind team mate Mikko Hirvonen, with Solberg ahead of them both in second. The duel for the runners’ up position commenced from the outset with Solberg needing to secure victory a Wales Rally GB victory in order to remain ahead. However, if the Norwegian finished in second and Latvala in third, the place was awarded to the Finn - and this is precisely what happened.
The drama lasted to the final whistle, as Latvala moved ahead of team mate Hirvonen just two stages from the finish. The young Finn held on to his position through the final stage and returned to the Service Park having denied his Norwegian rival second place on the Drivers’ Championship podium.
"This is a really big day for me and it feels fantastic. My target at the start of the season was to finish in the top three in the championship, so second is amazing. I won two rallies this year and I never imagined that would happen as I was the second driver in the team," he said.
Meanwhile, BP Ford Abu Dhabi’s Al Qassimi, put in a series of persistent performances, not only throughout the three-day action packed rally, but also across eight events this season, including a seventh place finish at Rally de Espana, enabling him to equal last year’s 12th place in the Drivers’ Championship.
“Our season has had some highs and lows, but finishing 12th in the championship is a real achievement and I look forward to returning for another season,” he said.
In the FSTi consistent performances over six events, including five consecutive podium finishes for Al Jabri and a victory at Rally de Portugal for Al Shamsi, ensured that the two Emirati’s bettered their 2009 results, continuing to demonstrate development in their driving skills. Now the members of the Abu Dhabi Junior Drivers’ Development programme will look forward to next year in order take their rally careers to the next level.