Why J-ML can thrive again
It’s important to put Jari-matti Latvala’s words into context here. He’s criticising neither Volkswagen nor Sebastien Ogier. Typically, it’s himself he’s taking to task. Put short, Latvala couldn’t get it into his head how his colleague could take the same kit and do what he was doing with the car.
So he went down the road of trying to copy him – only to find madness rather than title-winning speed down there.
Latvala looked a different driver in Monte Carlo. Once he’d settled into the event, he looked more like his comfortable, carefree self of old. And this could be the key to J-ML’S season. Nobody could deny he’s always had the speed to challenge the quickest, but it’s the confidence that he’s lacked.
How many times did we hear him talking about a lack of faith in the car under him on a Friday morning last season? Now we know why: he’d mirrored the set-up of Volkswagen’s sister car, only to be undermined by Ogier as the #1 Polo took second after second out of him. The answer? Force the pace until he a) went off the road or, b) got to the end of the stage some way behind the Frenchman, where he would talk about a lack of confidence in the car.
It was a vicious circle that could only be broken by leaving Ogier’s side.
Let’s see how that works out.