In Jari-Matti Latvala's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team man reflects on Rallye de France, where he finished fourth and posted four quickest stage times.
I have mixed feelings with my result in Strasbourg. Prior to the event I had been after a top-five in my Ford Focus RS WRC and so with fourth I achieved my goal. However in the end I was ever so slightly disappointed because the podium was so, so close and Petter Solberg was just 12.5 seconds in front.
On the first day I struggled a bit in the opening two stages but after that I grew in confidence and eventually won four stages in total, which was very special. It definitely shows how far the team has come with the car on asphalt.
Indeed, I think I had the best feeling I have ever had with the Focus RS WRC on tarmac. It really was that good. If I look back over the three years I have been with the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT I don't think I have ever felt that comfortable on asphalt, although of course my driving on the black stuff has also come on in leaps and bound this season.
I've mentioned this before – and I apologise for repeating it – but doing the Nurburgring 24 race back in the spring really has helped. I learned a lot there and I have been working to change my driving style on tarmac ever since. It is nice to see that really starting to pay dividends.
At the end of the opening day I was just ahead of Petter – thanks to the quickest time in the final stage. The battle then continued on days two and three and I really enjoyed it. It was a good fight, although a shame I ultimately lost out.
The crucial moment, in my view, came in the long stage on Saturday - Pays d'Ormont [35.48 km]. Petter was very, very strong both times through. My pace-notes just weren't good enough and that is what gave him the opportunity to get back in front.
I also had a bit of moment on the first run through Pays d'Ormont [SS11] when I went wide on some mud and hit a pile of logs. Luckily it didn't do too much damage but it was still a bit annoying.
We had a spin in the last stage on Saturday as well [Salm 2] and I had to reverse several times before I could get going. That cost me 10 seconds.