Jari-Matti Latvala says he is looking forward to returning to gravel action in the World Rally Championship as the series heads to Cyprus this weekend for the third round of the year.
After the tarmac of Ireland and the snow or Norway, Cyprus will provide a different challenge as it signals the return of a mixed-surface event to the calendar, with the asphalt opening leg being followed by two legs on gravel.
Crews will be forced to use gravel tyres throughout the three days which led to Ford completing a six-day test session in Sardinia, where Latvala took the chance to spend time sitting alongside team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to see how his fellow Finn tackled the tarmac stages on his gravel tyres.
“Normally I don't get the opportunity to do that,” he said. “Mikko has a different driving style to me and in tight corners he brakes differently. He uses the handbrake to get round corners and I don't. Mikko also keeps the car much straighter than I do. I drive more aggressively but that's something I'm trying to change.
“Cyprus is the only rally in the WRC calendar on which I've not competed. It's three months since the last gravel event in Britain so my test was a good opportunity to get a feel for the surface again. It's a technical rally and asphalt driving with gravel tyres will be a new challenge, the kind of thing that makes this sport so fascinating. I learned on the test that I must still use my asphalt technique and keep the car straight with precise lines. Too much sideways driving will destroy the tyres.”