Tenth time brings victory

Rally Wales is like a home rally to me because I started my career in Great Britain. This was my tenth time in this rally and I have always wanted to win it. It really was extremely wonderful to finally win there. Rally Wales and the former RAC rally belong to the classic races. I have won another classic race, too, when I won rally Finland last year. Still the best victory was in Sweden in 2008 when I won my first race ever in the series. Thinking of classic races every driver wants to win Monte Carlo. It is very hard to fulfill that dream but not impossible. Monte Carlo is the place where our next season begins. The beginning of the season of 2011 was a bit challenging because I rolled my car twice in the tests before the actual season had even started. In spite of those difficulties my four first rallies went well and I was only eight points behind the leader of the series. But then in the next three rallies in Sardinia, Argentina and Greece I met some difficulties. In Sardinia my co-driver made a mistake which led to driving off the road and breaking the suspension. And more difficulties were waiting in Greece where I first had problems with the transmission and then I broke my turbo. After all that I realized that my chance to win the title was almost nil. That was a difficult moment and made me feel really bad. My season ended gracefully, though, because I won in Wales. This victory opens mental blocks on my mind and helps me to prepare for the next season. If this victory had not come I would have had more pressure to win during the next season. There were other positive things besides this victory in this season. I got more self confidence and I learned to drive better on tarmac. I also became more decisive. It is not yet one hundred per cent sure that Ford will continue in the series next year. I have a contract with M-Sport that runs team Ford’s rally activities but M-Sport and Ford have not yet signed a contract for the next season. The teams must enter by mid December and after rally Wales the team principal Malcolm Wilson hoped that everything would be solved by that time. I’m quite sure that I’ll drive in M-Sport during the next season one way or another but if Ford will not participate there will be no testing and no developing of the car. The rally season is over but my life continues busy. In November – December I’m driving one test competition in France and I also drive tests that will prepare me and the car for rally Monte Carlo. I will also charge my batteries by having a holiday in the USA and Canada.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s columns will be published in Ilta-Sanomat freshly after each rally.

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