by Rob Wilkins
Stobart Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala
took his second points finish of the season recently on the Rally Mexico. Here he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio
about his year to date and looks ahead to the next event in Portugal...
Jari, the WRC heads to Portugal next week. What are your hopes for that event?
I am looking forward to going to Portugal, because it is a new event - just like Norway. What I want there of course is to get through the rally and get the experience. Also though, I want to fight for a place in the top six.
Portugal is a new event - does that make things easier for you?
I think it will because we start at the same level - unlike the events that have been in the championship a long time. It is then maybe easier to get closer to the top guys and to fight for the better positions. Nobody has any experience [of Portugal] and so what matters is how you drive there.
Also on the Friday, on day one I will have quite a good starting position so there is a chance to set good stage times.
Portugal will be your second event with the 2006 spec Focus on dry gravel. The experience from Mexico will be of real use won't it?
The experience from Mexico will be very important. Coming from Norway, from the snow to gravel, it didn't feel very easy at the start of the rally. I was improving my times every day, but still we were quite far away in terms of speed in comparison to what the others were doing. I was however, able to improve the driving and I got more confident and had quite a good set-up for the car by the end. I think it will help a lot when we go to Portugal. Of course it will be different roads, but in terms of gravel driving we got good experience in Mexico.
Staying with Mexico, you finished seventh there. Were you happy with that?
I was quite pleased because what I wanted to do there was to get through the rally. I was there last year but I retired on the Saturday. We started sensibly and the idea was just to drive with a good comfortable speed without making mistakes and without risks. We did it and we got two points and so I was quite happy with that. Of course sometimes you have a feeling that you would like to go faster, but you have to think a little bit about where you can push harder.
Prior to Mexico, we had Monte Carlo, Sweden and Norway. You had a bit of a tough start to the year, but scored your first points of the season in Norway (with a fifth place finish) and then added two more to your tally in Mexico. Are you confident you can continue to build on that?
I hope so. What I really want is to get points from all the remaining rounds because we got good points from Norway and two more from Mexico. The rounds that we will go to now I have a little bit more experience on and also they are good events. So I really hope we manage to do well.
Are there any events you are looking forward to more than others, apart from your home event?
Of course, Rally Finland is the event I am looking forward to a lot, but Wales Rally GB is the round I have done many times and I have a lot of experience there. I would say those two are the ones I am really looking forward to.