Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By David Evans Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­

Vic­tory on last week’s Rally Mex­ico has fi­nally kick-started Jari-matti Lat­vala’s chal­lenge for this year’s World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Start­ing the Leon-based rally with his team-mate Se­bastien Ogier 56 points ahead, Lat­vala knew he had to pull some­thing out of the bag in Mex­ico if he is go­ing to have any hope of stop­ping the French­man steam­rol­ler­ing his way to a fourth ti­tle.

Lat­vala said: “I have had a very tough start to the sea­son and I was very wor­ried be­fore this event. If I can’t get points it’s so dif­fi­cult to get back into the cham­pi­onship.

“I knew here the po­si­tion [on the road] would give me some ben­e­fit, but also you have to be able to use it. In my mind, I knew how good Se­bastien is and I know how good he has been in the last two years – es­pe­cially when he was win­ning from the front on this event last year. I still thought it might be pos­si­ble for him.”

Lat­vala banked his 25 points rather than risk­ing ev­ery­thing for an ex­tra three on the fi­nal pow­er­stage.

“I’m happy with se­cond on the fi­nal stage,” he said. “I knew Seb would push there and I didn’t want any risk.”

Lat­vala’s first win since last year’s Tour of Cor­sica has low­ered the points deficit to Ogier to 50. The Finn will, how­ever, still have the ad­van­tage when it comes to the next two ral­lies in Ar­gentina and Por­tu­gal, where he will con­tinue to run in a more favourable po­si­tion fur­ther back on the road for the first two days of those events. Lat­vala is sixth in the cham­pi­onship, which trans­lates to five cars clean­ing the line on gravel ral­lies.

“The road po­si­tion will still be good,” he said. “And this means we can give more pres­sure to Ogier and keep push­ing him. But we have to keep win­ning. The cham­pi­onship is not over, it’s def­i­nitely not over. We had to get the points here and we have done that – now I must keep this mo­men­tum go­ing. OK, it’s go­ing to take time if Seb’s go­ing to be tak­ing the points for se­cond, but we are in the right di­rec­tion now.”

Lat­vala added that the way he won his first Rally Mex­ico was also im­por­tant for him: “I have won in places like Fin­land, but this rally is so dif­fer­ent. It gives me good con­fi­dence to win this kind of event – where it’s not about go­ing flat-out all of the time. I’m happy for this.” ● Volk­swa­gen has now equalled its own record for the most back-to-back wins with 12. It last did the dozen be­tween Aus­tralia 2013 and Fin­land 2014. The cur­rent run started in Por­tu­gal last year, fol­low­ing Kris Meeke’s Ar­gentina win. Citroen and the North­ern Ir­ish­man won’t be in Car­los Paz next month, open­ing the door for VW to ex­tend its record.

Lat­vala hadn’t fin­ished in 2016

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.