LATVALA’S SNOWY MEXICO WARM-UP DAVID EVANS
GROUP RALLYING EDITOR “Farewell John Horton. And thank you”
Jari-matti Latvala has prepared for this week’s 50-mile Rally Mexico stage – the longest in the World Rally Championship for 30 years – by snowmobiling flat-out for 70 miles at a time.
Latvala tested his Volkswagen Polo R WRC in Spain late last month, establishing a base set-up for the car he will use in Leon this week. But his preparations for Sunday’s monster Guanajuato test have taken place in the snows of Lapland – a world away from Mexico and its 40-degree heat.
Latvala said: “This stage will be about keeping the concentration, so I have been riding the snowmobile for between 80 and 120 kilometres [50 and 75 miles] each time and pushing quite hard, keeping the speed quite high. Physically, you are working hard at this and, at the same time, you need to be keeping the full concentration when you are on the snowmobile with the speed high.”
Latvala will attempt to put a pointless start to the season behind him in North America, where he starts as favourite for the win. The Finn runs seven cars behind championship leader Sebastien Ogier, who will be forced to sweep gravel clear for 188 miles and two days ( see left).
Latvala is determined not to let the pressure get to him. He said: “I have the advantage and I must use it. In this kind of position, it’s not good to put any extra energy into this thing. I have to drive normally and not try to attack all of the time.
“This is probably going to be the longest rally of the season and there’s so much to hit in the stages – we have to be careful. And hope it doesn’t rain!”
Rain would ruin Latvala’s advantage, but the weather forecast is clear for the week ahead in Guanajuato.
Latvala believes the pressure ahead of the event remains on Ogier. “He will want to win the rally and it will be more difficult from his position,” he said. “I know I have a great, great position. Now I have to use it.”