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Latvala looks to positives despite 'disappointment'

19 November 2013

Jari-Matti Latvala insists there are plenty of positives to take away from his 2013 World Rally Championship campaign despite the 'disappointment' of missing out on victory on the season finale in Wales.

The Finn went into the event looking to make it three wins in a row in the Welsh forests, having taken victory for Ford in both 2011 and 2012.

After a solid start on Thursday night, the Volkswagen driver lost crucial time to team-mate Sebastien Ogier on the first run through Hafren on Friday morning – leaving him to then try and play catch-up for the remainder of the event.

Despite going on to take five stage wins, a series of minor mistakes meant Latvala was unable to beat Ogier to victory and instead had to settle for second place, just under 22 seconds behind the championship winner.

“I'm a bit disappointed if I'm being honest as I really wanted to win the event,” he told Crash.net following his return to the service park in Deeside at the end of the event. “I won in 2011 and in 2012, but I just couldn't do it this year.

“The positive is that the speed was good, but there were a few stages were I screwed up. I lost twelve seconds on the first run through Halfren when I just couldn't get the feeling, and then I made a few other small mistakes later on. The consistency was missing this weekend.”

With Thierry Neuville taking third behind the Volkswagen pair on the season finale, the Belgian racer was able to secure second in the championship standings ahead of Latvala, who had to settle for third for the second successive season.

“There were a lot of positives for me this season, and I think I have improved my style which I'm happy with,” he said. “At the same time though, I wanted a more consistent season this year and didn't quite manage it.

“There were two big disappointments for me in Finland and Germany, but I think that what I have created at the end of the year is very important for the future. My speed on gravel and tarmac is now there, and I feel I can fight for the championship next year.

“For sure it will be hard as Sebastien is very strong, but if I can carry the speed I have shown at the end of this season and make a good start to 2014 then it is possible to challenge him. You never know how things will go over the course of a season and they can change all the time. Ogier is strong at the moment, but every season is different.”

Latvala's move to Volkswagen this season ended a relationship with M-Sport and Ford dating back to 2006 and provided an extra challenge in his bid for the title.

However, the Finn insisted he was pleased with the way in which he had integrated himself into the German team and said the results this season had vindicated his decision to move to pastures new.

“I can tell you now that it isn't an easy decision to leave a team where you feel so comfortable, but I wanted a new challenge after many years with Ford and VW could give me that new challenge,” he said. “I hadn't been able to win the championship, and I felt that a change would give me a spark and help me fight for the title.

“I really enjoyed my time with Ford and was able to learn a lot, but when they announced that they wouldn't be supporting a full factory programme anymore, I knew that my chances of winning the title were lower. I really want to be the World Champion in future, which is why I joined Volkswagen. We have won the manufacturers' title which is one thing, but I know have work to do if I now want to win the drivers' title as well.”


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