13 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Latvala looking to relax
Jari-Matti Latvala says he is keen to relax on the WRC season finale this weekend in Wales
Jari-Matti Latvala says he is looking forward to being able to relax on the WRC season finale this weekend in Wales.
With Volkswagen having now wrapped up both championship titles this season with the new Polo R, the Finn heads into an event he rates amongst his favourites on the schedule seeking to end his first year with the team on the podium.
The former Ford man currently sits third in the championship standings and will hope to overturn the current 14 point deficit to Thierry Neuville.
“The Rally Great Britain is like a second home rally for me,” Latvala said. “I made my first start in the World Rally Championship in Wales in 2002. Despite the weather, which is often poor and challenging, I have very fond memories of the rally. The layout and rhythm of the stages are unique. I like quick routes – and this is definitely a quick rally.
“Sometimes you hope it will not be too slippery and muddy in Wales. That can sometimes be very tiring. This season the route is more to the north of the country, unlike last year, when we were primarily driving in the south of Wales. In the north there are more winding stages, which also makes them more technically demanding. On the whole, the special stages in the south were faster. I am really looking forward to the rally and can take a very relaxed approach.
“I would obviously like to be in contention for a podium, especially as second and third place are still up for grabs in the Drivers' Championship. However, the most important thing is that we are not under any pressure, as we have already won the Manufacturers' Championship. I will drive as quickly as possible and just enjoy the final rally of the season.”
Latvala isn't the only member of the VW team to have debuted in the WRC in the Welsh forests, with Andreas Mikkelsen having also made his first appearance in the series on Wales Rally GB.
The youngster will run a special livery this weekend that will carry photos of almost 4000 WRC fans and he said he was looking forward to tackling the new stages introduced in North Wales this year.
“The Rally Great Britain is obviously a special place for me,” he said. “I was just 17 when I started driving in rallies. However, I gained most of my experience the following year and in 2010, when we won the SWRC in Wales.
“There are a few new special stages awaiting us. However, that really plays into my hands – especially the 'Great Orme' special stage, which returns to the itinerary this season. We have held the record for this stage since 2006. It is a great feeling to return to this special place. The most difficult aspect is the weather conditions. The air is cold and damp, and there is a lot of rain. It can soon get colder than expected there, and can sometimes even be frosty. I hope we will avoid any snow this year.
“Generally speaking, the way the ground conditions change so rapidly makes the rally very tricky. We drivers need to show a really good touch to cope with this. It would be fantastic to end the season with a good result. I feel more at home in the Polo R WRC now than ever before.”
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