Q&A: Jari-Matti Latvala - Ford: EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins


Jari-Matti Latvala got the chance he had been dreaming of this season, when he was promoted to the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. Jari has shined since stepping up to the Blue Oval's 'A' team and he took his maiden win in Sweden back in February following a superb performance on the snowy stages around Karlstad. Crash.net Radio spoke to Jari recently to review his form in the first half of the year and to look to his home event in Finland...

Jari, your home round in the WRC is coming up. This year you have a great chance to win. Do you feel under a lot of pressure?

Jari-Matti Latvala:
Of course there is a little bit of pressure. It is our home rally and to win Rally Finland is always very important for the team. But the main thing is that I finish in the top three. I will not be disappointed if I can't win - although of course it will be nice if I can fight for the victory.

What would it mean to you if you do win in Finland?

It would be a big, big moment. Winning in Finland would be more special than winning any other rally in a way because it is the most difficult and the most high-speed event in the WRC. You have to drive perfectly without any mistakes because if you do make an error it is so difficult to catch the others up after that. The level of those roads and the competition means if you do get on the podium it is special. Of course it wouldn't be as special [if I win there] as my win in Sweden as that was my first victory and people say that is something you never forget.

Finland is one of the classic events in the WRC. For those that are new to the sport, what makes it so good?

There are a lot of rallying fans here. There is always a very good atmosphere and we have very nice stages. People go sideways over the jumps and there is a lot of interest for the spectators. It is a real spectacle. Also a lot of people come over from other countries. Plus with the roads being very fast it is good for the drivers' and a real challenge. It is very well promoted too.

What is your target for the event?

I really hope to finish in the top three - as I said - and I really hope I can fight for the victory as well.

After Finland, the WRC goes to Germany. Germany is one of three asphalt events in the second half of the year. How are you and Ford feeling about those tarmac rounds, which Sebastien Loeb and Citroen tend to excel on?

My start to the season in Monte Carlo on the tarmac wasn't so good. But I will get two days of testing on asphalt before the Rallye Deutschland and I feel alright. I know as a tarmac driver I am not on the same level as Sebastien [Loeb] and Dani [Sordo]. If I can finish in the top five though, I will be very happy.

Looking back on the first half of the season, how much will that experience help you in the remaining seven events?

Of course it will help because we have had some good results and lots of kilometres. We have done a lot of testing too. It is easier then to prepare for the second half of the season. The last rally in Turkey went really well and that has taken a bit of pressure off me. I feel comfortable going into the second half of the season. There are some very nice gravel events coming up.

We saw Ford use some clever tactics in Turkey. The response from the fans was mixed. Will you and Ford do that again?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (fin) Ford Focus RS Wrc BP Ford Abudhabi WRT
Jari-Matti Latvala (fin) Ford Focus RS Wrc BP Ford Abudhabi WRT
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila(FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC07, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
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