30 April 2013
Latvala: Pressure now off
Jari-Matti Latvala: The special stages on the Saturday look as though you are driving on the moon, the boulders to the left and right are so huge...
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala has reiterated that he will feel more at ease on Rally Argentina this week in the wake of his podium success earlier this month.
Latvala had been disappointed with his form in Monte Carlo, Sweden and Mexico and so third place in Portugal – what would have easily been second, but for a technical problem on the final day – was a welcome boost.
The Finn will now want to build on that in South America and while he missed the event in 2012 due to injury, he scored points there in 2011 and 2009.
“Third place in Portugal was a big moment for me, as it was a tough start to the season,” Latvala said in the countdown to the fifth round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship. “The first three rallies simply did not go well. The podium finish in Portugal relieved the pressure I had put on myself.
“There was absolutely no pressure from the team – it was purely about the expectations I have of myself. As such, the podium in Portugal was very important to me and I am now looking forward to Argentina.
“The special stages on the Saturday look as though you are driving on the moon, the boulders to the left and right are so huge. Some of the gravel roads are also very narrow, so there is little room to drift when exiting the corners. The roads are even narrower than in Portugal in places. However, there are also special stages, on which the route is wider and you can go a bit quicker. You have to steer really precisely, particularly on the Saturday. That is why I like these stages, especially 'El Condor'.”
Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen will join Latvala and Sebastien Ogier on the event in his second run in a works Polo R WRC. Like in Portugal, the Norwegian's main priority is mileage.
“Looking back, I am generally very happy with the result of my first rally for Volkswagen in Portugal [and with sixth place]. [But] it is now time to look ahead, as there are still some areas in which we can improve,” Mikkelsen continued. “As such, I can hardly wait for the start of the Rally Argentina.
“I am not concerned about my results though. They will come sooner or later. It is all about gaining as much experience as possible.”
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