Latvala won the renewed Rally Portugal
Jari- Matti Latvala’s chain of misfortune WRC competitions broke when he took a great victory in Rally Portugal. Latvala managed to keep Sebastien Ogier, leader of the WRC, behind on the three stages of the final day of the rally.
– In practise only two stages were driven on Sunday. First the stage of Fafe, then over 30 kilometers long Vieira Di Minho and then Fafe again, as Powerstage. I focused completely on that long stage, Latvala said. This was because of that recent years Fafe has been driven as a sprint stage before the rally, so Ogier had more and later experience of it.
– Fafe wouldn’t have been the right place to challenge Ogier so I had to try to succeed on the longer stage, Latvala commented. For Latvala the victory was the 13th on his WRC career but the first took in Portugal. During the years the competitions driven in Portugal have been one of the hardest WRC competitions for Latvala.
– Now winning tasted much sweeter than usual because the competition route changed completely this year and the center of the rally moved from Algarve to north, near Porto, Latvala said.
– The new roads suit me better than the roads of the southern route. There are no so many hidden jumps and the roads are softer when there’s more gravel on the road. The route was a mix of Sardinia and Argentina. All out of the starting position on two first competition days Latvala managed to make use of the excellent starting position on as ninth car. A forest fire occured during the first driving day canceled one stage out of six and Latvala came to the overnight lead of 11,1 seconds before Citroen’s Kris Mekke.
Latvala started the competition day carefully but then won two stages.
– I drove carefully at the first stage. At the second stage I attacked but also made some mistakes. From the start of the third stage driving went well, Latvala recalled the situation. On the second actual competition day Ogier got the softer tire to last the flash attack during the six stages and the French reached the second position, 9,5 seconds from Latvala.
– On the morning I missed one junction which took a few seconds. Same happened when I passed retired Thierry Neuville. Comparing to Ogier I played it safe with the tyres and saved the softer ones. However, if I had driven like Ogier, I couldn’t have gotten them last, Latvala said.
At the Sunday’s first stage Ogier narrowed the gap between Latvala to 7,8 seconds but at the second stage Latvala took fastest time which returned the gap to 10,4 seconds. Practically, this sealed the competition. Ogier was fastest at the Powerstage, Latvala being second but the winner when watching overall results where Latvala was 8,2 seconds faster than Ogier.