LATVALA IGNITES TITLE PUSH WITH WIN
CHAMPIONSHIP IS NOT OVER
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.