Work was rewarded
This was my best Rally Catalonia ever. I realized already on the last day of Rally France that I can drive on tarmac better than ever before. During the last years I have done a lot to become a better driver on tarmac. Last year I trained on the old track of Nurburgring in Germany and this year I have been able to drive more tests on tarmac. Before Rally France my Fiesta started to feel really good on tarmac for the first time. We changed the set up a bit before this rally here in Spain. We made the car a bit stiffer in the front and the car felt very good right away. For the first time all the ingredients of driving on tarmac were there. Only one thing annoyed me a bit: on the last stage of Friday there was so much dust that we span because of it. It was hard for me to accept that the dust did not bother Sebastien Loeb who was driving first and we lost to him so much on that stage. That is why I drove too fast to a right corner where we ended up between two trees and had to wait for the dust to be dispelled. Furthermore we hit a few rocks and had a puncture. Without this stage we could have had a huge battle with Sebastien Loeb for the victory. On Sunday I knew that I could not catch Loeb by driving which influenced my driving. Not even the notes were as good as on Saturday which forced me to change them while racing. It was a big relief to our team to see that the Fiesta is competitive on tarmac and that even the driver has improved. Everyone in the team was very pleased although we did not win. We can say now that the Ford’s performance reaches that of the Citroen’s. Both Mikko Hirvonen’s car and mine had the same set up. Rally France was not a successful one for Mikko which perhaps caused problems and made it difficult for him to drive. The Fiesta is sturdy and more like a track race car. It has not been easy for Mikko to get to know this new and harder car. After Rally Catalonia there are three PR events for me and then I test for one day. After testing it is time to go to Wales. Mikko and Loeb will be competing there for the title for the last time this season. The weather could be wet or dry, sunny or rainy which adds up the excitement. If Mikko wants to win he has to start sharply. If he starts to lose right at the beginning it will be very difficult to catch the leader. I try to drive for the victory but of course I will keep an eye on what is going on between Mikko and Loeb. If possible and needed I will help Mikko even there. A piece of sad news in motorsport came from Malaysia where Marco Simoncelli died in motoGP race. Only a few weeks earlier Simoncelli spent a couple of days at M-sport with Mikko. He drove a WRC then, too. It is always very sad to have accidents like that and it feels so hard and wrong but there are risks in every sport. Every time you put a helmet on you have to be ready to face danger.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s columns will be published in Ilta-Sanomat freshly after each rally.
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