Latvala concedes WRC title fight

Autosport

Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted his challenge for this year's World Rally Championship is finished after a troubled opening day on Rally New Zealand.

The Finn started the Auckland-based event 74 points adrift of Sebastien Loeb, but his failure to remain in the lead fight in New Zealand has prompted the Rally Sweden winner to throw the towel in.

Latvala dropped four minutes on the penultimate stage of day one, dropping him from third to ninth place on the leaderboard.

"I am out from the drivers' championship myself," he said. "It's quite a fact that it is not possible [to win the title]. I feel alright about this; I have realised when I had to miss Argentina that this was going to be the fact. But as long as we have a chance with the manufacturers' championship then we will push for that and to win the rallies."

Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said: "I must admit, I haven't looked at that side of things yet, but sure if it stays the same then he's right.

"This has been a frustrating year for us all. As I've said to you in the past, we have never had a more competitive car than the one that we've got this season and we're all deeply frustrated.

Citroen leads Rally New Zealand with a one-two for Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen on Friday evening.

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