by Russell Atkins

Stobart VK M-Sport star Jari-Matti Latvala stunned the world rallying community on last weekend's Wales Rally GB, with a career-best finish in only his first outing in a 2006-spec Ford Focus.

The 21-year-old - the latest in a long line of Flying Finns at the very tip of the sport - registered his third top eight placing of a ten-round campaign with a battling fourth place in the challenging Welsh forests, as he marks himself out as a man to watch in years to come. Here he reflects on the highlight of his career so far and a season that has just got better and better...

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Q:
That was a fantastic performance, wasn't it?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Yes. It was a very good weekend for us. There were no major mistakes and we had a good clear run.

Q:
How did the car feel throughout the rally?

J-ML:
It's a brilliant car to drive. The new Ford Focus seems very reliable and it's a very fast car.

Q:
What were the conditions like out there in the forests?

J-ML:
Because this rally is in early December, when I came here I was thinking it would be really slippery. Ok, it was slippery, but it wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. There were sections where it was very muddy but there were others where there was quite good grip.

Q:
And you enjoyed the event?

J-ML:
Definitely. It was my fifth time and this was the best one yet!

Q:
Looking back on your year as a whole, how happy are you with how it has gone?

J-ML:
I'm quite pleased. The beginning of the season was quite tough - we had problems and I was making mistakes - but by the end of the season it started to get better. I think there was a personal growing-up happening at the end of the year, and that helped me to get these results.

Q:
Have there been any particular highlights or low points from the season?

J-ML:
This was the highlight of my season! The lowest moment I think was going off the road in Corsica and breaking my right thumb.

Q:
What are you now looking forward to in 2007?

J-ML:
I hope I can do as many world rallies as possible.

Q:
And maybe getting on the podium along the way?

J-ML:
Of course. This result has given me more self-confidence. If I can do lots of rallies next year we will try to get on the podium, but it's not going to be easy.