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Latvala: Two points better than none

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala is vowing to stay positive and not let his Rally Ireland disappointment get him down, despite leaving the event with nil points.

Latvala made a blistering start to the opening round in the World Rally Championship last Friday and having opted for Pirelli's Sottozero winter tyre on his Focus RS WRC08 the rewards were instant. Indeed despite treacherous conditions he easily topped the times in SS1, Glenboy 1 - 17.6 seconds up on Urmo Aava, who was 'best of the rest' and a stunning 42 seconds quicker than five-time world champion, Sebastien Loeb.

Disaster struck though in the next stage, when he aquaplaned off the road. His car took a heavy impact to the front left in the incident, puncturing the tyre and breaking both the track control arm and driveshaft.

He dropped almost two minutes as a result and although he limped to the finish and tried to make repairs, his efforts were in vain and he retired on the road section to SS3.

He restarted on day two under the SupeRally rules and concentrated on rebuilding his confidence, maintaining a steady pace to climb from 25th to 14th. While that wasn't good enough to give him any drivers' points, it did mean he picked up two for the team, which was some consolation.

"I've had an up and down weekend,” he admitted. “I felt I let the team down on Friday because I came here to get good points and I only scored a few. But the past is the past, and I hope I have learned from it and don't get so excited when I'm leading in the future.

“This weekend was a good experience in difficult conditions and two points is better than none.

“After my accident I concentrated on driving cautiously but it's hard to generate the same kind of feeling in those circumstances."

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was also keen to take the positives from Ireland.

Indeed while they did only score eight points - with Mikko Hirvonen grabbing the other six with third - he felt the stages times posted by both Latvala and Hirvonen were encouraging. He was also happy to see Jari-Matti recover somewhat following his SS2 gaff.

"Both drivers claimed fastest times on their least favourite surface and both have gained in experience and know-how in very difficult conditions. I'm pleased Jari-Matti fought back from his first day problems too," Wilson Sr confirmed.


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Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Ford Focus RS WRC08, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team

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