BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala overcame the 'biggest pressure' of his life and a severe stomach upset to notch up a confidence boosting rostrum finish on the Neste Oil Rally Finland on Sunday.
Latvala went into his home event, the ninth round in the 2009 World Rally Championship, determined to get a solid result after his final stage blunder in Poland, which cost him and the M-Sport-run outfit second place and eight championship points.
The 24-year-old held fourth for most of the opening leg, but his chance of improving looked slim when he fell ill on Saturday morning and was left feeling drained and unable to drive at full speed.
However he recovered quickly and as the day progressed, so did his health and his stage times. He then received the ideal tonic by climbing into third during the afternoon and maintained a fast but cautious pace for the rest of the rally to secure P3, 16.2 seconds up on Citroen's Dani Sordo.
"It's one of the highlights of my career to finish on the podium on my home rally," Latvala said. "After my mistake on the final stage in Poland last month, I was under the biggest pressure of my life here and it took time to regain my rhythm and confidence. That was why I couldn't find the right feeling on the Friday.
"Also there was the famous Mökkiperä stage where I crashed three times so that was a little demon I had to watch out for. I managed to overcome that and then I got a better feeling.
"But then we had another thing on the Saturday morning when I felt really sick. So sick in fact that I didn't even know if I would be able to drive the car, but I managed to keep going and overtaking Dani to move into third was a turning point. My times became better and better from then on.
"Both of us wanted to be on the podium but you have to be clever and not do anything stupid. That's why I was really happy with this rally.
"Okay, even in Friday's loop Dani was 10 seconds ahead but I was able to use my head to think about it. I thought, okay, if it doesn't happen now we have some stages to come on Saturday to be able to take it.