Reigning WRC champion Sebastien Ogier says mental strength is not one of Jari-Matti Latvala’s best attributes - but still considers him his toughest opponent.
Latvala has yet to score points this season, having retired from Rally Monte-Carlo and lost several minutes in the first day of Rally Sweden due to mechanical problems.
"[Latvala] is not overconfident, he’s just easily distracted by some factors," Ogier told Motorsport.com. "Maybe his mental abilities, his ability to focus, are not his forte.
Still, the Frenchman continues to name Latvala as his strongest rival and highlights consistency to be the key of his own success.
”Ever since he started in 2007, he was closest to Loeb in terms of speed. Should he become more consistent, he would be a very dangerous opponent. I still see him as the biggest threat over the season."
Latvala has been Ogier’s teammate at Volkwagen since the German marque returned to WRC in 2013, and since then the Finn has only scored points more than once in the first three rallies in 2014.
He was closest to the Frenchman that year, but was back to his old self in 2015, having been outscored by 80 points.
Latvala already has a deficit of 56 points after just two rallies this season, thanks to Ogier scoring the maximum amount on both events.
Mikkelsen stronger than ever
Ogier praised the improvement that his other teammate Andreas Mikkelsen's has shown over the past couple of years.
The Norwegian has completed two full-time seasons for Volkswagen, amassing 14 podiums and taking his maiden victory last year in Spain.
"[Mikkelsen] questions himself a lot less, for sure, he’s self-confident," added Ogier. "I’m not saying that Latvala is not self-confident but Mikkelsen is more serene.
"In the past two years his learning curve was good and he is now very close to us. In addition, consistency is not an issue in his case, he scored nine podiums last year compared to our 10.
"We had more wins, which made the difference and we must keep our little advantage we had in performance in order to stay ahead."
Mikkelsen currently sits second in the standings, 23 points behind Ogier, having finished second and fourth in Monte Carlo and Sweden respectively.
Interview by Jean-Philippe Vennin