In Jari-Matti Latvala's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team man reflects on the Jordan Rally, where he lost out on the win by the tiniest of margins.

What an exciting rally! The Jordan Rally had pretty much everything in terms of drama - from the delays before the event due to transportation problems with the team's equipment to that incredible final stage that was broadcast live on TV.

Of course, I was very disappointed at the finish. It was a big fight and I really wanted to take the victory in my Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. It was so close. But then I lost out by just 0.2 seconds - the smallest gap there has ever been in rallying history. Someone had to lose. But I'd rather it hadn't been me!

Today, a few days after the rally, I already feel quite normal. But I think I'm still going to need a few more days before I will be able to take the positives from Jordan - and before I will be able to see how great a result it was.

At the moment it is difficult to see it that way. But it will come and I know I shouldn't be too disheartened.

At the end of the first day I was happy and the tactics we did to give us a better road position for the second and final leg were correct.

We didn't really have any choice but to slow in fact. If I had ignored S?bastien Loeb's tactics and just concentrated on driving as fast as I could to the finish, I would have probably been leading the rally going into the Saturday as in that situation Citroen would have dropped S?bastien Ogier behind me, but by only a few seconds. Then being the first car on the road on the second day, with only a few seconds lead, I would never have been able to fight for the victory.

As it was, I started day two third on the road and going into the final stage, the 10.50 kilometre-run through the Baptism Site 2, I had just got in front and was on a roll. I had been fighting really hard on the previous stages and had managed to win three tests in a row to take the lead.

I knew before the last stage that my tyres were absolutely on the limit and when I went into it there was a bit of nervousness. Maybe I wasn't relaxed enough and maybe I pushed a bit too hard. Whatever, I made a few mistakes and in three places went a bit wide. That is where I lost the rally.

I've since been asked if I was surprised it was so close, and to be honest I wasn't. You have to remember this was only a two-day rally after the logistical problems led to one leg being cancelled.

In the end we did around 260 competitive kilometres and with all the top drivers familiar with the tests - this is the third time we have been to Jordan now - and the cars so equal this season, the fights are going to be close. Indeed I think if we look to the coming events the situation is going to be very similar.

Despite losing a day though, it was still a good rally. The organisers did an impressive job and everything worked really well there. Overall I had no complaints.

The team did a great job too because they had to wait so long for everything to arrive after the boat transporting all the gear broke down - twice.

Then when all the stuff did get to the Dead Sea they had to build everything overnight for the Thursday when there was the shakedown. It was a big task, but the event went ahead and that was the main thing.

Michelin deserve some praise as well and their new tyres were spot on. They were a lot stronger and despite some impacts and some bent wheels, they always lasted. The tyre wear wasn't a problem either, even though it was really hot and even though the road surface there is so hard.

Following Jordan it is now very close in both championships. Ford and Citroen are both on 130 points in the Manufacturers' and while I am fourth in Drivers', I'm now only eight points behind the leader. It should be a great season and I believe it will remain tight right to the end.

As I said earlier, the cars are so equal at the moment and that makes it difficult to pull out a gap both in the stages and in the points.

I'm very happy though with my Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. The set-up was good in Jordan and the car went really well. It is really, really quick and we are very happy with the pace, which is a good sign now ahead of Sardinia.

I won in Sardinia two years ago when it was a WRC event the last time and having been so close to victory last weekend, I'm even more determined to try and get my first win of the year there.

I like the Rally d'Italia Sardegna - to give it its full title - and I have always enjoyed driving in Sardinia. I've driven there a lot of times. I did the Rally Costa Smeralda in Sardinia before we started having the WRC event there and I have been to the island a lot. It is always nice and it has a good atmosphere, even though it is on an island, which obviously limits the number of spectators a bit.

The stages are very demanding and while it would be good to see even more people in the tests, it is still a great rally.

We have a five-day test before that event - and Mikko [Hirvonen, my team-mate] and I will do two and a half days each. The test is next week and will take place in the north of the island. I can't wait.

I'm definitely looking forward to Rally d'Italia. I'm very hungry to get that victory now and I'll be going there to win.

Jari-Matti Latvala

 

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