Latvala, in a factory Ford Focus RS WRC, snatched victory by 2.4s despite failing to set a fastest time on any of the event’s 21 special stages.
He said: “The final day of the 2010 rally will always remain with me. Four drivers started the final stage, Whaanga Coast, with a chance of winning the rally. After a dramatic 30 kilometres in which the other three drivers all made mistakes, I won by just 2.4 seconds, one of the closest finishes in WRC history.”
Indeed, with three corners of the challenging gravel rally remaining, Sebastien Ogier was heading for what would have been his maiden world championship victory only to spin into a bank and stall the engine of his Citroen C4 WRC.
His misfortune enabled Latvala to power to his first win of the 2010 season, which also enabled his Ford team to become the most successful manufacturer in the history of the WRC with 75 wins to Lancia’s 74. Citroen has since surpassed that total.
“It’s unbelievable because I never thought this would be possible but my consistency paid off when it mattered most,” Latvala said at the time.
Ogier recovered to finish second with Sebastien Loeb claiming third for the factory Citroen squad following an eventful rally. The French ace slid his C4 into a bridge on the fourth stage of day one but fought back heroically from being more than 1m40s off the lead to hold the advantage after Sunday’s opening stage. But another uncharacteristic mistake by Loeb on the first run through the infamous Whaanga Coast stage on Sunday morning resulted in more time being lost and a shot at victory.
This year’s Brother Rally New Zealand is based in Auckland from 21-24 June.