M-Sport's youngest customer, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, will continues his first full year of the British Rally Championship behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS WRC at the Manx International Rally this weekend, acknowledging he faces a number...
M-Sport's youngest customer, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, will continues his first full year of the British Rally Championship behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS WRC at the Manx International Rally this weekend, acknowledging he faces a number of challenges at the event - the least of which is that he's never competed on the Island before.
"This will be my second tarmac event in a row and my third in the past five weeks however each event has been completely different in character. To say I have learnt a lot about tarmac in the past month is an understatement -- but the most important lesson was not to have any preconceived expectations of the road surfaces. As our experiences on the Jim Clark Rally have shown even just a light sprinkling of rain can vastly change the characteristics of tarmac and so for the first time on a British Championship event this year we will be using a gravel crew,"
Latvala has been lucky enough to secure the services of Britons Mark Higgins and Steve Griffiths as gravel crew for the Manx International.
"I was very disappointed to hear that Mark wasn't able to compete this weekend as his car was not ready. I have an awful lot of respect for him as a driver, so when he offered to help me as gravel crew I was delighted. He will add a lot of value to our team this weekend with his experience of these roads, and I am looking forward to learning much from him"
"Experience is definitely the key to a top placing on this event and I do not want to put any pressure on myself to finish in a particular place. This year is a learning and development year for me and already I have had a mixed season so far," he said.
Latvala will be navigated by fellow Finn Miikka Anttila, the 31-year old stepping in to assist following the hospitalisation of regular co-driver Carl Williamson after an accident at last month's Jim Clark Memorial Rally.
"Miikka and I have now completed three rallies together this year. We did the Rally Estonia in January and the Exide Rally, Finland, earlier this month in a Toyota Corolla. Last week we competed in the Rallye Deutschland - a round of the FIA World Rally Championship - Miikka's first event in a Ford Focus RS WRC. Miikka is used to reading his pacenotes in Finnish, but I prefer mine in English so it has been a fairly steep learning curve for him. But he is doing a great job and I'm lucky that he has been able to step in while Carl is recuperating," he said.
About the Manx International Rally
The Manx International Rally is the fourth round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship run on closed public roads around the picturesque Isle of Man. Starting at the ancient capital Castletown on Friday, competitors face over 200 competition miles on bumpy, twisty tarmac roads around the island before the Sunday afternoon finish at the world-famous TT Grandstand, Douglas.