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Latvala: I`m back!

Jari-Matti Latvala marked his return to the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team fold in style last weekend by taking the runners-up spot on the Pioneer Rally Japan.

Latvala ran in second for almost all the event and on the final day significantly reduced the gap to team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to just under 5 seconds.

However he eased off in the final loop to ensure the Blue Oval got the one-two result and the maximum 18 points necessary to keep the battle for the manufacturers' championship alive.

The result was a major boost for the 23-year-old and while he took a 'moral' podium in Corsica - he only dropped to fourth after purposely picking up a penalty to aid Hirvonen's title bid - this was his first proper top-three result since the Rally of Turkey prior to the World Rally Championship's summer break.

"It feels fantastic to take a top three finish on gravel again. After a bad August this is my third strong rally and I really wanted this result," Jari-Matti reflected. "The conditions were probably the worst I've seen and I can't explain how much water there was in the forests. We seemed to be aquaplaning all the time.

"The difficult rallies really suit the Focus RS WRC, which is incredibly strong. We've had no problems during the weekend and when you have to attack in the rough and tough conditions then it's encouraging to know that the car excels on that type of road."

As for his confidence, he added that it is now a lot better and back to where it was before 'black' August when he had three crashes in as many events.

"Mentally, I have been really low after the crashes in August. Catalunya and Corsica were good [when I was with the Stobart squad] and now being back in the factory team is nice. It's really good to be back," he continued.

"My confidence is at the same level as Turkey now. The level was good in Finland, but then it went wrong. It's been a year where I've learned a lot of new things. I hope this makes me stronger."



Related Pictures

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Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC
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