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Wilson: Latvala ready to lead Ford

Malcolm Wilson insists Jari-Matti Latvala is ready to lead Ford into the 2012 WRC season
Ford World Rally Team boss Malcolm Wilson insists that Jari-Matti Latvala is ready to lead the Blue Oval during the 2012 World Rally Championship season following the departure of Mikko Hirvonen to Citroen.

Latvala will take up the role of lead driver within the team this season with former champion Petter Solberg having been named as his team-mate, with the Finn aiming to take the fight to Sebastien Loeb during 2012.

Although he only took victory on one occasion last year, in the final event of the season in Wales, Wilson said he had no doubt that Latvala was ready to lead the team having shown his pace through the second half of 2011.

“I think everyone could see the performance of Jari-Matti in the second half of last season,” he told Crash.net. “He only won Rally GB but we know he could have won more, He was clearly the fastest driver and had more fastest times that any other driver - including Sebastien Loeb - last year and as lot of that was in the second half of the year.

“We know that Jari-Matti has developed to the point where we feel he can now go to every rally and challenge for victory, even on tarmac – some of his performances there last season were sensational. He finished the year on a high and is in great spirits and we know he is up for it. He has the back-up of Petter Solberg and we have made it clear that Jari-Matti is the number one and that Petter is there to back him up.”

If Latvala were to win the title, it would mark the first time anyone other than Loeb has taken the title since Petter Solberg was champion back in 2003, and Wilson insisted that his lead driver was more than capable of beating the Frenchman.

“I think we saw last year that there are possibilities,” he said. “There is no question that Jari-Matti had Sebastien in a position he hasn't been in for a long time on Rally GB and of course Jari's performance on tarmac has improved – although with Sebastien's record on tarmac I wouldn't be so brave as to say he is going to win all the events there. However, I definitely think he can mount a strong challenge of those asphalt rallies and on the gravel rallies.

“If he can continue where he left of in GB, I don't see any reason why he can't challenge. In my eyes, he has to be one of the favourites for the gravel events.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Antilla (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Antilla (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC

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kkierann - Unregistered

January 16, 2012 11:38 AM

I don't understand why petter is not being given equal opportunities, like Citroen did last year with the Sebastian's... Maybe they know the car isn't good enough. Mikko will unveil whether it's the car or the drivers I guess. If he can beat jari this year.... It's the car.

Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

January 16, 2012 1:50 PM

How it works is that Latvala is the clear number 1 driver for 2012, and Petter has this written into his contract, to support Jari Matti However, if Latvala has a bad start and Petter is right up there after a few events and at the top, then Wilson would allow Petter to fight Jari Matti for victories rather than saying after day two that they should hold station until the finish In 2006 and 2007 Ford won Two Titles by letting Gronholm push for victories with Mikko as a solid number two driver, this was a very Good driver Line up and the plan worked well for Ford I certainly dont see Wilson looking for a reason to Fire Latvala, that is just Not the case at all.



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