DAVID EVANS

GROUP RAL­LY­ING EDITOR “Meeke would have drop-kicked me into the har­bour”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - TIME­LINE Fri­day Fe­bru­ary 5

A new three-year agree­ment with WRC Pro­moter de­liv­ered a com­plete turn around for Rally Swe­den – which was on the edge of drop­ping off the WRC billing just seven days ago.

Warm weather looked like it would force the or­gan­is­ers to can­cel the rally for only the se­cond time in its his­tory – a move which would have cost the or­gan­is­ers £1.55m and wiped the event from the cal­en­dar.

A cold front ar­rived just in time to save the Karl­stad-based event and a week of hard work from the or­gan­is­ers was re­warded with a cal­en­dar slot un­til 2019.

“A week ago, this event was more dead than alive,” said Rally Swe­den boss Glen Ols­son. “I couldn’t see any fu­ture for the event. Now we have man­aged to put on an amaz­ing event and it is an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing to be able to con­firm we have agreed on a new three-year deal.

“What we had to find was an eco­nomic deal which both us and WRC Pro­moter could live with. We needed to find a lad­der so we didn’t walk right into a wall with money, we have done that with a de­vel­op­ment ev­ery year pay­ing more and more. This is a level we can sur­vive on; it’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge, but we can live with this. The pro­moter likes us, they want us on the cal­en­dar.”

Full of praise for the job Ols­son and his col­leagues have done, the WRC teams, how­ever, are keen to see the event mov­ing north in Swe­den. Citroen’s Yves Mat­ton

said: “For sure

Volk­swa­gen will not be able to iden­tify the is­sue which cost Jar­iMatti Lat­vala his chance to fight for vic­tory on last week’s Rally Swe­den.

The front-left drive­shaft on the Finn’s works Polo broke just over a mile from the end of the open­ing stage. Af­ter strug­gling through Fri­day in rear-wheel drive he was forced out with sus­pen­sion fail­ure. His worst start to the sea­son com­pares starkly with team­mate Se­bastien Ogier, who sits at the top of the ta­ble with a per­fect 56 points: two rally wins, two pow­er­stage bests.

To com­pound the Finn’s mis­ery, the ab­sence of bro­ken parts means VW can’t de­ter­mine what went wrong for Lat­vala.

The Ger­man squad’s team prin­ci­pal Jost Capito said: “We felt very bad, they had a tech­ni­cal fail­ure on the car. This was some­thing we didn’t have hap­pen be­fore. We don’t know what it was or why it hap­pened and now, be­cause the parts are all gone, we will never know. The con­nec­tion for the drive­shaft broke and the parts came off. We will check the ma­te­ri­als of the oth­ers to have a look and see if we can find any­thing, but we are con­fi­dent it won’t hap­pen again.”

On Lat­vala’s tough start to the year, Capito added: “We felt re­ally sad for him. He did not have a good start in Monte Carlo and then here it has been bad for him as well. The good thing is that he came back with good speed and now he’s in a good po­si­tion on the road and look­ing for­ward to Mex­ico. For sure he will chal­lenge for vic­tory there.”

Lat­vala ad­mit­ted his place on the road in Gua­na­ju­ato was the only pos­i­tive to come from the week­end in Swe­den.

“The only chance I have is with the road po­si­tion,” he said. “I need to keep cool now, I need to con­cen­trate on my job and trust the speed that I have. I think this will be enough. On this rally I think I would have been able to chal­lenge Seb.”

Lat­vala ad­mit­ted the fact that he didn’t make a mis­take helped him cope psy­cho­log­i­cally: “It does make it eas­ier to know that I haven’t done any­thing wrong. There was noth­ing I could have done; the car broke and the car was al­ways go­ing to break.”

Ols­son: Swe­den CEO Swe­den lives to fight again

French­man went off in Swe­den Lat­vala is well be­hind in ti­tle fight

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