Losing the victory
Rally Argentina was a disappointment to me. The race started well and my driving was good over half of the rally. But on Saturday afternoon the troubles started. I have to admit that it was most frustrating. I knew that the victory was gone due to the broken suspension arm. Of course this is speculating but I am sure my pace was good enough to win the race. I was very successful when driving on tarmac with gravel tyres. These sections haven’t been my best before but now they were. And when Sebastien Ogier rolled his car on the last day of the rally I could have had very good chances to win the race. But the victory was lost on Saturday when there was a hit beneath my car while braking. Soon after that I almost drove off the road because one of the tyres started to move back and forth. The suspension arm got twisted and soon after that it broke down. We tried to be Mr. MacGyver (a series action hero from the 80’s who was very good at fixing and inventing things*) and do all kinds of tricks but they didn’t work as planned. We tried to fix the car by taking the rear suspension arm and put it into the front. It was too long, though, and didn’t fit. I tried to tie the arm but my tying material only held for the next four kilometers. I had to retire while leading the rally. Sebastien Loeb’s performance was breathtaking. He got a time penalty of one minute but still he won the race. He won Mikko Hirvonen only by 2.4 seconds, but he may still lose his victory. On one stage there were round traffic dividers and our orders were to go around them on the right. We Ford drivers did as told but at least one of the Citroen drivers drove on the left which can also be proved. The jury discussed this matter after the race. By taking the left line saved about four seconds and when the difference between Mikko and Sebastien was 2.4 seconds the shortcut may have brought the victory to Sebastien Loeb. Disqualifying the Citroens would be too hard of a punishment but a time penalty could be in order. Rally racing cannot be twisting the rules all the time. (The jury decided to give the Citroen team a punishment. So Loeb won the rally*).This season started well for me but these last two rallies have been difficult. Now I am number four in the points. Loeb has 52 points more than I so being able to get the title doesn’t seem realistic for me. More than that I will try to help the team to get the manufacture’s title this year. If we still want to get the title we need more victories -it is as simple as that. The victory gives so many more points than the second place. In the next events I will need whole performances. In June we are driving in Greece where I am going with confidence. I am sure I can reach the podium there.
*these two pieces of information were added afterwards
Jari-Matti Latvala’s columns will be published in Ilta-Sanomat freshly after each rally.
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