A disappointment in home rally

A pretty hard weekend in rally Finland. Third place is not what I expected but I could not do more this time. The Citroens simply went too fast. They had clearly invented something new. The good thing in this weekend was that we were able to drive a whole rally. There haven’t been many of those this year. My feelings weren’t the best when this rally started. I was pretty stressed out because I had been so busy before the race. No time to relax before the start. Only on Friday I was able to get the right rhythm but then the set up of the car started to be troublesome. In the tests we had tried to make some changes and had made new shock absorbers for this rally. But the changes didn’t work the way they should have worked and we had to go back to the old set up. Fortunately I realized that at an early state of the race. The car was really stable and it jumped nicely but there was no traction which wore the tyres a lot. Thinking of the whole rally I lost perhaps ten seconds because of the set up and the mental lock I had at the beginning of the race. So these were not the actual reasons for me being the third in the finish. The Citroens had simply taken a huge step forward and I was truly surprised of how fast they were. They had clearly improved their suspension and they were much faster here in Finland now than they were last year. No matter how fast and well I drove I was barely able to drive the same times as Loeb and Hirvonen. We have to improve our suspension a lot before the next event on gravel; on tarmac I think the difference won’t be so big. It was really great to be able to drive Ouninpohja stage again. It is such awesome a stage! Our notes were pretty accurate although there were a couple of long jumps – and a few jumps that came as a surprise, but that is a typical feature of Ouninpohja stage especially I you haven’t driven there for a while. My previous time there was in 2006. Ouninpohja should be driven in every rally Finland and Myhinpää in the north of Jyväskylä, too. Team Citroen seems strong right now but I’m still extremely motivated and want to drive for the victories. The next event is a tarmac rally in Germany. Before that my team mate Petter Solberg and I will test in Germany and I will drive Lahti Historic rally with our Ford Escort BDA. During the summer we have tested on tarmac and the car is better now than earlier. I have a positive feeling on driving on tarmac and I’m sure we can find the right punch for the car.

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

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