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

23 July 2008

by Rob Wilkins


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH JARI-MATTI LATVALA: CLICK HERE


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...



Crash.net:
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.

Crash.net:
What would it mean to you if you do win in Finland?

J-ML:
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.

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

J-ML:
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.

Crash.net:
What is your target for the event?

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

Crash.net:
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?

J-ML:
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.

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

J-ML:
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.

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

J-ML:
I think if there is a chance to use tactics everybody will. We have been in that situation and we have used them. I don't want to say what is right or wrong. But as long as the possibility is there everybody will use it and so we might see tactics again during the second half of the year. But if we don't want them, then we need to change the regulations.

Crash.net:
Your team-mate Mikko Hirvonen leads the drivers' championship at the moment. Are you going to try and help him win the drivers' title?

J-ML:
I still want to fight for wins in the second half of the season. But of course, if Mikko gets closer to winning the title and beating Sebastien, I will try to help him. Let's see what happens and what the situation is at the end of the season. If he is close to winning the drivers' title then I will try and help.

Crash.net:
How tough a rival is Sebastien Loeb?

J-ML:
He is a four-time world champion. He doesn't make many mistakes and he is very consistent. Also he is very clever. He is a very, very clever driver. He doesn't push or risk too much unless he knows it is worth it. He thinks about the championship and knows it is not always about speed. Speed is not the only thing that makes you world champion. You need to think about the whole picture and that strategy works really well for Sebastien. That is why he is a really tough driver to beat.

Crash.net:
What have you been doing during the summer break?

J-ML:
I have been to Italy with my girlfriend. Also I have been playing with my old rally cars, which I used when I started my career. I have just tried to relax and re-charge my batteries for the second half of the season.

Crash.net:
Sum up, what you want to achieve by the end of the year?

J-ML:
I hope we will get more victories and I hope we will be able to remain third in the drivers' championship. Also I want to help Ford win the manufacturers' championship again.



TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH JARI-MATTI LATVALA: CLICK HERE


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