Jari-Matti Latvala says he feels confident of fighting for the World Rally Championship title in 2009 following his strong performance on Wales Rally GB, the final event of 2008.
The BP Ford man revelled in the tricky conditions that faced crews in the Welsh forests and took the lead of the event on day one as he made the most of a more favourable road position to championship winner Sebastien Loeb.
Despite being first on the road as a result for day two, Latvala was able to maintain his lead and it was only on the final two stages that he finally lost his advantage to Loeb, who took his first win on the event in the process.
Although he lost out on a second win of the season, Latvala's drive drew praise from team boss Malcolm Wilson and the young Finn said he now felt he was capable of raising his game to fight Loeb for the crown in 2009.
“I feel that now, finally, I am ready to fight for the Championship,” he said. “I spoke with my co-driver Miikka [Antilla] on the road section, that we got the Rally Sweden victory the easy way. We thought that it gave us an easy feeling that it would be easy now.
“But today we realised that the victories need big fights and if you want to win a title you need to be able to fight and win these battles. So I think mentally I am stronger.”