Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala put his Polish demons behind him and battled back to finish fifth on Rally Poland last weekend.
Latvala was not happy with his pace initially, but improved on Friday and ended the day in fourth in his VW Polo R WRC, 12.5 seconds off Mads Ostberg ahead.
Like a number of drivers, however, he then came unstuck in SS14 the next day, hitting the same rock that took out Ostberg and Elfyn Evans and while the Finn could continue, he lost over 1.5 minutes in the following stage because of the damage caused to his front suspension. That dropped him to P7, but he charged back, winning the final two proper stages on Saturday to climb to sixth, just 0.4 seconds off P5.
Latvala then pushed again on Sunday, claiming three more stages wins and at the finish was just 0.7 seconds shy of Mikko Hirvonen in fourth.
Speaking in the final service, Latvala said he was pleased with P5, especially given his painful exit back in 2009
- the last time Rally Poland was part of the WRC - when he crashed out in the final super special while on course for the runners-up spot.
“It was a rally with some ups and downs, but ultimately a happy ending,” said Latvala. “I lacked confidence at the beginning and the vehicle set-up wasn't right, and then we lost a lot of time due to the damaged damper [in SS14].
“But ultimately what matters the most is that we managed to hit the right pace again and were therefore able to partially close the gap to the front-runners.
“I have now also overcome my demons from Rally Poland in 2009, as I managed to win the stage where I was forced to pull out back then.”
With team-mate Sebastien Ogier winning in Poland, however, Latvala sees the gap to the Frenchman in the 2014 WRC Drivers' Championship increase from 33 points to 50 - with six events left to run - and that makes Rally Finland, Jari-Matti's home event next month, all the more important.
“Unfortunately, Sebastien has increased his overall lead in the WRC – but we will try to reduce the gap again in Finland,” he vowed.