Jari-Matti Latvala says he expects Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier to come out fighting in Mexico in an attempt to reclaim top spot in the World Rally Championship standings.
An off for Ogier coupled with victory for Latvala in Sweden was enough to see the Finn move into the WRC points lead for the first time, with the 28-year-old now sitting five points clear of the defending champion in the title race with two events run.
Speaking in an interview released by the team, Latvala said he was hopeful that he was now in a position to battle Ogier for title honours, although he admitted that the Frenchman would be keen to try and fight back from his mistake last time out on the Swedish snow.
“I hope so,” he replied when asked if there was now a big battle going on with Ogier. “But one thing is certain: Seb will be damned hungry for victory in Mexico. Of course I would also like to become world champion. That is my great ambition. For that you need a perfect overall package and I'm working on that. But there are also other drivers, who share this dream, therefore for the time being we're just concentrating on one rally at a time. Seb is really strong. If anyone wants to beat him, they have to perform consistently at their best, on all surfaces.
“He's a very strong driver and he's at home on all surfaces. He is certainly difficult to beat, but despite this you should never have fear. If you are afraid, then you won't achieve anything. You can have respect for other drivers, but never fear. As I mentioned, if you want to win the world championship, you have to deliver consistent performances.”
Latvala added that he was keen to try and challenge for a place on the podium in Mexico, with the former M-Sport man being realistic in terms of what he could achieve in the first true gravel event of the season.
“We've spent two days in Spain preparing for Rally Mexico,” he said. “I was behind the wheel one day and then Sebastien the next. Seb adjusts to new conditions incredibly quickly. Quicker than me. I need a bit of a warm-up on gravel. Therefore I often use the shakedown to get used to the road surface. This was exactly the case during Rally Great Britain last season. If I haven't been on gravel for two months then I notice it straight away.
“Of course the win has given me extra confidence. At the same time when you're in first place, you have to be a realist. In Mexico, if you allow yourself a mistake then your chances of victory are slim. I travelled to Mexico in 2012 fresh from victory in Sweden. At the time I had a great feeling about the Rally Mexico, then I was unfortunately forced to retire. You have to see that you pick up as many points as possible. It's not my strongest rally but of course a victory is possible, however, it's not my main aim. Even a podium finish would be super.”