Co-driver: Asko Sairanen
The preparations for Neste Oil Rally 2006 went well. We could update the notes from the 2005 Neste Rally rather easily. Reading numbered notes was a bit confusing beforehand and even in the recce.
On the first day we hit the stone Jan Kopecky’s car had dug up. This happened on the test special stage in Laajavuori. Our service experts managed to fix the crack in the oil bottom before the stage of Killeri. The first stage on day two was Lankamaa. We spanned there in high speed. Luckily there was large enough a yard of a farm house and we didn’t lose much time in our spin. Special stages two and three, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki, went as planned.
Last year we retired at Vellipohja which put some pressure on us this year, but we managed well. Mökkiperä didn’t have jumps at the beginning like last year so it was easier but the right bend at the end was very slippery. The same stages were driven twice and we had no worries.
We had driven like a bus, on time from one bus stop to another. Killeri, which we drove perfectly, was the last stage of day one.
Our position was 14th overall.
Day two: the special stage of Vaheri ended a bit embarrassingly for us, we kept on driving after the finish. My co-driver hadn’t noticed the difference between the special stages in Vaheri and Himos so our notes weren’t right. Our time came out alright but guess just how much the rally radio joked about our “go off”!
Ouninpohja West and East were controlled driving which got us higher in overall positions. We were already number ten. After Urria it was Ouninpohja West and East again and our rear right tire got totally damaged because there was a crack in the rim. The tire even got into flames and we had to stop to put the fire out. That cost us several minutes. And that was not all, the next stage we had to drive very slowly (not race at all) because of all the damage caused by the fire. Our position was now 23rd. Our tremendous service personnel were able to fix the car again and we drove two good rally days as the first racing car on each stage. We finished 17th overall.
Many, many thanks for our sponsors, for our brilliant service team and for all of Jari-Matti’s fans from Finland and from abroad.
Car: Toyota Corolla WRC
Team: Latvala Motorsport Ltd
Competition engineer: Asko Kosonen