Finland's youngest rising rally star, Jari-Matti Latvala, had a thrilling run in his M-Sport prepared Ford Focus RS WRC on the Yorkshire Trackrod Rally to finish in third, behind championship winner Jonny Milner and eventual rally winner Tapio ...
Finland's youngest rising rally star, Jari-Matti Latvala, had a thrilling run in his M-Sport prepared Ford Focus RS WRC on the Yorkshire Trackrod Rally to finish in third, behind championship winner Jonny Milner and eventual rally winner Tapio Laukkanen. The trio quickly resumed their battle for the top spot of the leaderboard on the forest stages, as they did earlier in the month at the Ulster Rally, offering nail-biting action for the many spectators over the two-day event.
Despite running 17th on the road for Leg One, where he was hampered by dust and catching the slower cars ahead in the stages, Latvala put in a flamboyant performance to quickly move up to second overall, closing the gap to just a few seconds by the end of the day.
"It has been a fantastic weekend for me. The Focus ran perfectly and did everything I asked of it and our result has given me a great confidence boost. I went to Yorkshire with Tapio in my sights and we have proved that we can not only match and better his times. We were able to constantly close the gap between us, even though we were catching other cars in the stages, and we showed that we are a force to be reckoned with!" he said.
What has become a 'continuing' battle between Latvala, Milner and Laukkanen during the BRC season, started right from the beginning of Stage One on Saturday, with the three dominating the leaderboard for the entire event.
Reseeded to run seventh on the road for Leg Two, Latvala continued to close the gap between himself and Laukkanen, however the youngster left his braking too late on a long corner on the second stage of Leg Two, and left the road, losing over a minute and a half.
"I was pushing hard and unfortunately we had a small problem with our notes and was going too fast, so we went straight on instead, through a ditch and into some felled trees. At first I thought we had damaged the car badly as we couldn't get it moving, but then discovered that a log had become wedged behind our front tyres, so once we removed it we were able to return to the stage," he said.
Despite losing so much time, the young Finn was able to maintain third overall and went on to set three fastest times -- bringing his total for the weekend to five.
"I am very happy with our performance over the weekend. We are now beginning to make some good progress with the Focus and I am continuing to gain valuable experience behind the wheel. I am also pleased to finish as we retired here last year with mechanical problems. I am looking forward to the final round of the season at the Tempest Stages and hoping for an equally good, if not better, result there," he said.
Latvala, who is currently leading an Italian one make series, is now concentrating on the next round of that series this coming weekend, however the 18-year old has a slightly more pressing engagement this week before he departs for Italy.
"It's exam week at school this week and finishing my education is very important to me. Once we had put the car in Parc Ferme last night, it was straight to my text books!" he said.