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Latvala: Rally Australia turned on me

7 September 2009

BP Ford Abu Dhabi number two driver, Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted that two errors cost him dearly on the Repco Rally Australia last weekend, the tenth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship.

Latvala stormed into the lead on the opening day, winning six stages, as he made the most of the favourable conditions to finish the first leg narrowly in front of Citroen Junior driver, Sebastien Ogier.

However on Saturday he was unable to keep the lead and lost time as he had to sweep the roads. Although he held off his challengers until the afternoon, thanks to rain in the morning, he slipped to second in SS21 and then down to third in SS22.

It was the next test though, the 18.75 kilometre-run through Bosch 2, that was to be his undoing, when he hit a bank and damaged his car's right rear tyre. It cost him around 40 seconds, dropping him to fourth and ending any hope of battling for the win.

"About 3km after the start I approached a long, fast left bend with a bump on the exit," Latvala recalled. "I hit the bump and the car jumped sideways into the ditch. The rear wheel hit a bank and the impact pushed the tyre off the rim. I continued but about 5km from the end the tyre exploded, damaging the side of the car. I had enjoyed the day but it was a disappointing end."

On Sunday he continued to push, but an identical incident in SS27, the second test of the day, dropped him further back and initially he finished the event in fifth, around 30 seconds behind Ogier.

He was though later bumped up to fourth and ahead of the Frenchman, when all of the Citroen's were hit with a 1 minute penalty post-event for a technical infringement.

"I made a fantastic start on Friday but the rally turned round on me on Saturday afternoon and today," Latvala reflected. "Two mistakes that caused the tyre to come off the rim on each occasion cost me dearly, but who knows what may have happened without those errors?

"It was more difficult to drive first through the stages then I thought it would be [on Saturday]. There seemed to be more loose gravel than I remembered from the recce. [Overall] it didn't work out in the end. I'm disappointed, but I'm also happy that my speed was good enough to lead for half of the rally."


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