Abu Dhabi Junior Al Jabri Finishes Second in FSTi Strasbourg, France. 3 October 2010: BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team's Jari-Matti Latvala put in a determined final day display to clinch fourth at the rain-drenched FIA World Rally...
Abu Dhabi Junior Al Jabri Finishes Second in FSTi
Strasbourg, France. 3 October 2010: BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team's Jari-Matti Latvala put in a determined final day display to clinch fourth at the rain-drenched FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Rallye de France, as team-mate Mikko Hirvonen took fifth.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA)-backed Latvala put in a string of consistent performances at the all-new French rally based in the Alsace countryside, snatching four stage wins against seven time World Rally Drivers' Champion Sebasitan Loeb.
The 25-year-old Finn, who won the rally's final Haguenau 2 stage, finished with a combined time of 3h07m18s -- just 1m27s off eventual winner Loeb and 12.5s off a podium place.
"My target was to finish in the top five and I achieved that. However, I'm slightly disappointed because a podium was so close and that shows how much progress I've made on asphalt. I wanted to drive safely today, but I also wanted to be close enough to Solberg to take advantage if he had a problem," said Latvala, who has two WRC wins under his belt this season.
"The conditions were incredibly difficult and I'm delighted to have won four stages on this surface. I can almost call myself an asphalt driver!"
Rallye de France produced some of the toughest driving conditions seen this season on the WRC, and although the track had dried out considerably by the final day, previous wet weather had generated a mass of mud that continued to cover surfaces, causing sliding and altered road grip.
As such, Latvala continued to put in a measured response and was rewarded for his consistency when a technical issue with Sebasitan Ogier's Citroen during Saturday's final stage pushed the Team Abu Dhabi driver up to fourth after 16 stages of action. And despite clipping a hay bale on Sunday's longest stage, Bitche Camp, Latvala managed to hold his ground.
Yet with only 14.2 seconds dividing Latvala from third placed Petter Solberg at the end of stage 18, a late cancellation of the Bitche Camp rerun due to heavy spectator numbers all but ended Latvala's hopes of making up lost time.
Caution also paid off for Emirati rally star Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi who had tackled the tough slippery stages determined to return to the Strasbourg Service Park without incident and build his confidence for the WRC's next asphalt round in Spain. His persistence was rewarded with a 13th place.
"It has been hard work as the road conditions have been so difficult to negotiate, but I am pleased to finish in 13th," said Al Qassimi. "I head straight to Rally Syria for the sixth round of the Middle East Rally Championship now, so I will have to keep my focus on the next task ahead."
Team Abu Dhabi Junior Driver, Bader Al Jabri, notched up an outstanding second place finish in the Fiesta SportTrophy International (FSTi), adding to the up-and-coming rally star's impressive run of results which have seen him finish on the podium at every event he has participated in this season.
Al Jabri won a total of three stages on Friday and the final stage today, providing him with valuable FSTi bonus points. An unfortunate flat tyre on Saturday's Stage 10 lost the Emirati over four minutes of time and pushed him back into third. However, the aspiring champion managed to continue his competitive campaign to finish in second.
"The conditions on the stages have been a real challenge all weekend, but to come second is a really good result for us," said Al Jabri. "It's been a weekend of mixed feelings as we went from leading on the first day to losing a lot of time when we needed to change our tyre. However, we pushed on and achieved an excellent result."
The podium finish for the youngest member of ADTA's Junior Driver Development Programme has helped maintain his second place standing in the overall FSTi competition. He is now just four points away from leader Harry Hunt.