Finland's youngest rising rally star, Jari-Matti Latvala, dominated the South of England Tempest Rally today, winning twelve of the fourteen stages and taking top honours by over a minute behind the wheel of his M-Sport prepared Ford Focus ...
Finland's youngest rising rally star, Jari-Matti Latvala, dominated the South of England Tempest Rally today, winning twelve of the fourteen stages and taking top honours by over a minute behind the wheel of his M-Sport prepared Ford Focus WRC.
Cold, clear conditions greeted the 41 competitors who turned out for the 14-stage event, which covered 55 miles of mixed gravel and asphalt surfaces near Aldershot in the Home Counties. The morning's brilliant sunshine saw many competitors opt for extra tape on their windscreen to help cut the glare, and the excellent conditions lasted all day.
Latvala, who was delighted with his maiden BRC win, dominated the leaderboard for the first twelve of the fourteen stages. "It has been a fantastic day. The car has worked well, we've had no problems and maybe I've never before in my life been as happy as I was when I crossed the finish line! For the first time this year I've had a troublefree rally and I am so pleased to have finally made it to the podium in first place," he said.
The day was not without its challenges however, and on SS7, Longmoor, the Finnish duo clipped a concrete post on the outside of a corner. "We nearly missed the junction and as we quickly turned, the car slid on a patch of slippery asphalt and touched a concrete post. Thankfully we did very little damage to the car and it didn't affect out time," he said.
With a clear lead over his closest competitors, Latvala opted to back off for the final two stages in order to ensure he crossed the finish line. "We had a brilliant run and a good margin, so there was no need to do anything stupid when we were so close to the finish. Today has really been the best way to end the season for me -- I'm only sorry it's over for the year, as the British Rally Championship has been a great learning experience for me, and has taught me a lot for the future."
However the 18-year old still has three outings left this season, including driving his M-Sport prepared Focus this year, the Wales Rally of GB, 7-9 November, when the youngster will join his Ford BP Rallye Sport colleagues for the final round of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship.
<pre> South of England Tempest Rally: Final Positions 1 J-M Latvala/ M Anttila FIN Ford Focus WRC 49:40.7 2 R Champion/ C Simmons GB Subaru Impreza 50:51.0 3 A McHale/ B Murphy IRL Subaru Impreza 51:26.7 4 J Reynolds/ I Thomas GB Toyota Corolla 51:26.7 5 P Morgan/ M Douglas GB Subaru Impreza 53:20.9 6 W Nicholls/ N Broom GB Subaru Impreza 53:57.6 7 R White/ G Shinnors IRL Mitsubishi Lancer 54:16.5 8 J Lloyd/ P Gullick GB Subaru Impreza 54:56.6 9 N Buckley/ D Redpath GB Mitsubishi Evo 5 55:30.4 10 M I'Anson/ T I'Anson GB Mitsubishi Evo 6 55:43.4