M-Sport's youngest customer, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala will complete a 50-mile tarmac test near the team's Cumbrian base in the United Kingdom tomorrow as part of his preparations for the Jim Clark Memorial Rally this weekend. The Jim Clark...
M-Sport's youngest customer, Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala will complete a 50-mile tarmac test near the team's Cumbrian base in the United Kingdom tomorrow as part of his preparations for the Jim Clark Memorial Rally this weekend.
The Jim Clark Memorial Rally is the third round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship run on closed public roads in Berwickshire just south of the Scottish capital Edinburgh. It is the first true asphalt rally for BRC competitors this season and for Jari-Matti his first ever tarmac rally in a 4WD car.
"Neither Carl or I really have any idea what to expect this coming weekend -- the only thing we are sure of is that it will provide us with our biggest challenge so far this season. We are looking forward to testing tomorrow and it will be interesting for me to see how the Focus performs on tarmac, but until then we just can't predict where we'll finish on Sunday,"
The 18-year old who has only been rallying for twelve months has showed why he is being hailed as a star of the future by many as he has quickly got to grips with his Ford Focus RS WRC and impressed in both the British and World Rally Championship events he has participated in this year.
"The season has been fairly full on so far, particularly last month when we had three events in as many weeks! However it has been great for both Carl and I as we are not only learning so much about the car but we are seeing an improvement in our personal performance and are really enjoying ourselves.
"We have competed on mixed and gravel surfaces so far and I am intrigued to see just how well the car will perform on asphalt as it hasn't let us down yet. I have spent a lot of time karting since the Scottish Rally a few weeks ago, mainly to remind myself of what sort of mindset you need for tarmac. For sure the difference between a kart and a Ford Focus is vast but a lot of how you mentally approach tarmac is the same in both disciplines and I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel tomorrow,"
"We are lucky to have such an experienced team behind us and we are able to draw on the tarmac experiences of M-Sport's customers who are competing in national and WRC events. For example we have access to tarmac testing data for the same specification Ford Focus WRC from previous years - including that of the legendary Carlos Sainz. This not only provides us with some amazing information as Carlos is known for his meticulous testing, but for someone at my level of the sport to be able to draw on the experiences of 'The King' is absolutely priceless,"
Jari-Matti admits that competition at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally will be fierce, with regulars Tapio Laukkanen and Jonny Milner keen to increase their points advantage.
"We are currently fifth overall in the drivers championship and third overall in the open drivers championship, so it's vital that we have a good points finish next weekend to keep the Championship alive for us. However when you look at the entry list and see the number of Irish tarmac specialists who are competing we will be just as happy with crossing the finish line!
"We have three weeks until our second WRC outing for the season, the Rallye Deutschland. Obviously the Jim Clark will provide us with valuable experience for Germany so our number one priority will be to finish as we need all the experience we can get!" Latvala said.
About the Jim Clark Memorial Rally
The 33rd running of the rally will take place over the weekend of Friday 4th to Sunday 6th July, with the seventh staging of mainland Britain's only closed public-road rally, held as usual on the twisting, narrow roads of the late Jim Clark's Berwickshire homeland.
For the second year, Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal will be the rally's headquarters and will be the location for rally control, the media centre, scrutineering, start and finish and overnight Parc Ferme. The Scottish Sun rally show will take place on Friday evening beside the Ocean Terminal building, right at the start of the opening stage which will see both International and Junior entrants tackled two runs over a testing road section on land beside the Ocean Terminal, all in reverse order of seeding.
Following the overnight halt, the competitors will head off at 8.30 on the Saturday morning for over 100 miles of closed road competition on the remaining 17 special stages set over 7 locations in Berwickshire, including many old favourites as well as the famous circular stage at Langton near the central servicing location of Duns.
After a second overnight halt back in Edinburgh, the crews will return to the Borders for Leg 2 which sees them attempt almost fifty miles over 8 stages at 3 locations -- again including Langton, where, as on the Saturday, there will be commentary at the ever-popular water-splash corner. The first car is due back at the finish in Edinburgh at around 2.00 pm on the Sunday.
Counting as rounds of the Pirelli British Rally Championship, the New Pig Scottish Rally Championship, the Toshiba Computers Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Challenge, the MSA Armajaro British Historic Rally Championship, and several local championships, as well as the Peugeot 206 Cup, the Ford Rallye Sport Ka Challenge, the Castrol VW Polo Challenge and the Scottish Mini Cooper Challenge, the 2003 Jim Clark Memorial Rally promises to be the biggest and best yet.