Jari-Matti Latvala says he is eager to repeat the strong asphalt form the displayed towards the end of the 2011 WRC season when he heads to Germany next weekend for the first of three tarmac events in the final five rounds of the 2012 campaign.
The Finn took fourth in France and then third in Spain at the end of 2011 and will now aim to impress again on the challenging German stages.
Buoyed by a successful test in France, Latvala said he was confident for the weekend ahead and said he felt he could challenge for victory.
“I've never been as competitive on asphalt as I was at the end of last year, and that gives me a lot of confidence,” he said. “Both myself and the Fiesta RS WRC have really taken a step forward in that respect, and we know the car is well-balanced and competitive on every surface. We left the test in France with some good ideas and having done a lot of tyre testing in mixed weather conditions.
“For me, Germany is the most difficult asphalt rally of the year. The stages are very enjoyable, but tyre choice is always extremely tricky and the hinkelsteins are very unforgiving; if you go wide in the Baumholder section, you pay a heavy price. However, whilst before we went there thinking a podium would be great, now we know we've genuinely got a chance of fighting for victory.”
The test in France took place at the Circuit des Ecuyeres in France, with team boss Malcolm Wilson insisting it had given Ford the chance to investigate a series of small changes that it hopes will improve the Fiesta.
“Using a circuit gave us a consistent location in which we could learn more about the Fiesta RS WRC in asphalt set-up,” he said. “Driving on the same stretch of track enabled us to understand accurately how small modifications to the set-up of the car affected its handling and performance.”