In Jari-Matti Latvala's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team man reflects on Rallye Deutschland, where he was battling for a place on the podium.
I really enjoyed competing in Germany this year in my Ford Focus RS WRC car. I said before the rally if we can finish in the top-five I would be really pleased and at the end I took fourth. That was better than I expected.
We did a lot of testing prior to Rallye Deutschland. I did 700 kilometres, two and a half days of running. We made significant changes to the car with the suspension and we revised the engine mapping. We got the car much better.
As such it was much more comfortable right from the off and you could see the results immediately from the first stage. The difference to the Citroens, compared to Bulgaria, the last tarmac round, was halved, and my team-mate, Mikko [Hirvonen] and I were joint third in Ruwertal / Fell 1.
By the end of the opening day I was on course for the final spot on the rostrum and I must admit it felt a bit strange - nice, but strange to be 'best of the rest' behind Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo, the two men widely regarded as the quickest on tarmac in the WRC.
It was going well on Saturday too and after SS9 I was still ahead of Sebastien Ogier, the gap up from 6.2 seconds overnight to 7.7 seconds post-Freisen 1.
Then came Panzerplatte and it didn't go to plan. I made a small mistake and spun and lost 20 seconds. After that it was very difficult to get back the time because Ogier was very quick.
It was a bit annoying to make that error as that was the only moment I really had throughout the whole event. There were a couple of places where we went wide, but that is normal in Germany because it is dirty tarmac and you get a lot of gravel and muck pulled onto the line. But I didn't have any other moments, except this one in Panzerplatte 1 and it probably cost me third.
Overall though I was still happy with fourth and at the end it was crucial to finish the rally in this position because it gives me much more confidence for the next tarmac rallies coming up in France and Spain.