Finland's youngest rising rally star, Jari-Matti Latvala, is looking forward to returning to the Yorkshire Forests for the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire next weekend.

As well as excited to be competing on gravel in his Ford Focus RS WRC after three tarmac events, he is also looking forward to being back on familiar roads.

"Every event so far this season has been new for me, so it is somewhat of a relief to be heading back to Yorkshire for the Trackrod Rally, as at last I will be competing on an event I've done before," said Latvala. "Psychologically that makes a big difference. Everyone talks about experience and knowledge being so important in rallying and I am looking forward to revisiting some familiar stages for a change!"

The 2002 Trackrod Rally was Latvala's first foray into a British Rally Championship open class and he exceeded all expectations to get his Group N Mitsubishi up to third overall before technical problems ended his rally.

"The most important thing for me will be to finish this event," continued Latvala, "I didn't enter the 2003 British Championship to win, although in all honesty that would have been great, but points-wise it's not an option for me now. This year is about understanding - both the Ford Focus RS WRC and myself, and preparing for the future. Time behind the wheel is more important to me than trophies on the mantelpiece - I have many years ahead to do that, it's getting the basics right that count."

Latvala's most recent British Rally Championship outing was the Ulster Rally last month, where he finished fourth following a tense battle with leading championship contenders Tapio Laukkanen and Jonny Milner - and he is expecting more of the same next weekend.

"Both Jonny and Tapio had a fantastic rally in Ulster - the three of us spent the whole time swapping positions and fastest stage times - it was a very exciting event! This coming weekend I expect the competition will be even hotter - Jonny is racing in front of his home crowd and will be looking to win this year as convincingly as he did last year. Tapio though, who has not done the Trackrod before, should not be underestimated and I think the three of us will be continuing our battles from Ulster - I'd just like us to be in a slightly different order at the finish line this time though!!" he said.

"To be honest it was a great relief to me to finish the Ulster Rally. For sure I was incredibly disappointed - as it turned out I could have finished as high as second overall if I hadn't spun on the last corner and nosed the Focus into the bank. But if you dwell on the 'what ifs' you never move forward, and really, as I've never rallied in Ireland before, that was quite a result, even if I say so myself!"

The young Finn puts down his success on the Emerald Isle to a good recce, having Mark Higgins as gravel crew and his M-Sport support team.

"We did have a good recce - being only the fourth event I've done with Miikka Anttila it does take a little time to gel, and I was very pleased with the pacenotes in Ulster. Having Mark Higgins and Steve Griffith gravel crewing for us was an incredible bonus. Mark has so much knowledge that its sometimes difficult to know where to start when trying to get information out of him! He has been great and I have learned a lot from him."

Latvala expressed his disappointment that Higgins will not be competing in the Trackrod Rally due to his commitments at the Rallye Sanremo in Italy the following weekend.

"Although in one way I must say it makes a podium finish just that bit more accessible!" he said.



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