Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala is chasing a podium finish on this weekend's Rally of Portugal following a difficult start to the season.

Whilst team-mate Sebastien Ogier has won two of the first three rounds, Latvala has endured a more trouble time after managing to score just 15 points, with a fourth place in Sweden and a point from the Power Stage on the final day in Mexico.

Despite these setbacks, the Finn believes he only needs a clean event to be able to challenge for the podium in Portugal this weekend.

"I have often been quick in Portugal, but my best result so far is the third place I achieved in 2011," he said.

"I hope I manage to come through clean this year and challenge for a place on the podium."

Latvala said despite his misfortune on the previous three events, he still believes in the Polo R WRC's potential and following a test session with the team in Portugal, he feels more confident with the #7 car.

"The first three rounds of the world championship were a bit difficult for me," conceded the Finn. "Unfortunately, not everything went entirely to plan. I just needed time to get used to the car.

"However, I had the necessary trust in the car on the Power Stage in Mexico - and that good feeling got even stronger during the tests in Portugal."

He also cited the need for maximum concentration on the Algarve stages due to the blind crests which characterise the stages.

"The Rally Portugal is known for its 'blind crests', which are really rather special," he said. "You really have to be alert as you approach these crests, as you cannot see whether they are followed by a left-hander or a right-hander.

"For this reason, it is also important to be very accurate during the Recce in the run-up to the rally, to ensure that the pace notes cannot be misunderstood in any way."

Latvala lies seventh in the championship, ten points behind Thierry Neuville and one point ahead of Martin Prokop in eighth.

by George East