World Rally Championship press release
Shakedown pace boosts Latvala
Jari-Matti Latvala has said his fastest time in shakedown for Rally Australia, round 10 of the World Rally Championship, was a "real confidence boost".
The Ford Fiesta RS WRC ace, yet to win in the WRC this season, set a fastest time of 1m58.9s through the 3.77-kilometre practice stage on Sherwood Forest Road, 30 kilometres from the event base in Coffs Harbour.
He was 0.2s faster than Citroen DS3 WRC privateer Petter Solberg, while world championship leader Sebastien Loeb was sixth quickest in his factory Citroen.
“It’s a real confidence boost to be fastest on roads new to us all,” said Latvala. “I am happy to be back on gravel and the fast and flowing stages here are the type of roads that I like.”
Asked whether he would be able to translate his pace in shakedown to the rally proper, Latvala said: “We know from this morning the car is going to be competitive here so fighting for victory this weekend is our only aim.”
Solberg, who is chasing his second podium of the season in Australia, said his performance in shakedown had given him a renewed sense of optimism.
“I keep up in the shakedown so that will be a big help but now we have to wait and see for the rally,” said the Norwegian. “It’s very good roads here but you need a good balance and that is what we were working on in shakedown. We are optimistic for achieving that.”
Evgeny Novikov’s preparations suffered a setback when he crashed on his second run aboard his M-Sport Stobert Ford Fiesta.
“On the second pass in a left corner we cut too much and touched a wall and the steering arm was broken so we had to stop,” said the Russian. “It was not possible to take the car from the shakedown so we didn’t drive more. The car is not bad so it is not a big problem for me.”
Jukka Ketomaki was the fastest Production Car World Rally Championship contender in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Rally Australia gets underway with the first of 26 stages at 19:15hrs local time today (Thursday).
Here are the top 10 times from the Shakedown session:
1. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:58.9
2. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.1
3. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:59.6
4. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.8
5. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:00.6
6. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:01.0
7. WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:01.6
8. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:04.4
9. VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:05.0
10. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:05.4