Rally Mexico 05 -06 March 2015

Slipperiness surprised – good fortune didn’t favor Latvala in Mexico

Wild, graveled roads and engine output consumed by low-owygen air waited for drivers in Rally Mexico. The weather instead was exceptionally cool on mornings which caused slippery and problems for Latvala in the beginning of the rally when Latvala was trying to get used to a new WRC-Polo.

– I couldn’t find the confidence with the rear of the car. I was afraid of oversteering, Latvala said after the first day of the rally.

The tire choise that turned out to be too cautious ate up the speed. In cold weather conditions the soft tires would have been the right choise. Latvala got only one soft tyre for the four stages driven on cold Friday morning – and the rest of the tires were hard, which are normally used in Mexico.

– Soft tires aren’t normally used in rally of Mexico but this time it would have been wise to choose them, Latvala said.

On Friday the temperature dropped under 10 degrees in some places, which meant that the soft alloy doesn’t get hot and consumed in the same way as what it would do under normal conditions in Mexico.

Latvala started the Saturday’s stage from the second position but wasn’t lucky enough. He drove out of the road and stopped his rally when the car hit the wall of the rock on the second stage. As a result of this the left rear wheel left off five kilometers before the finish of the stage. There was still two stages left before accessing to the service park so Latvala had to stopped his rally. At that point Latvala had dropped to seventh position.

– There were two junctions in a row turning to right and two holes in a row in inner bend. I tried to skirt the first hole and the car slipped from the clear driving line to the slippery surface. After that the rear of the car hit the wall of the rock, Latvala thought back.

– Driving rhythm was good. The speed didn’t have anything to do with this situation. I made a mistake when I tried to set the front suspensions.

Latvala returned to the competition on Sunday but couldn’t get points on the Powerstage after reaching the fourth position. Latvala, who had two fastest times on the competition was finally fifteenth. Sebastien Ogier took the win where as Mads Östberg with Citroen was second.


Rally Sweden 12 -15 February 2015

Rally Sweden was full of hardships but setup for the gravel rallies were found

Last year everything went perfectly for Jari-Matti Latvala in Rally Sweden. This year the problems with handlig the car as well as a crash occured on Friday made the rally troublesome. Latvala was the twelfth and Sebastien Ogier grabbed the victory.

There was the unfinished car testing behind Latvala’s hardships.

The way to handle the car on the snow was missing.

– Compared to last year this car is 50 percent of new. The things in the car that were ok last year, don’t necessarily work in this version, Latvala said about the challenges of the tests.

– During the rally we found that I’ve made the rear of the car too tight and I was a bit lost with the car setup. Luckily I got the setup to right position on the final day of the rally. Then the car felt good for first time in these conditions, Latvala said.

The third of the route of Rally Sweden was new compared to the route driven last year. Visit in Norway on Friday offered most new things, but the rest of the rally was driven on fast and well-known roads of Värmland.

Latvala opened the rally as slightly uncertainly but nearly reached the leading position due to Sebastien Ogier’s crash on special stage of Torsby, which took half minute. Then Latvala’s car slipped out of the road only a few hundred meters from the finish which caused a loss of over eight minutes.

– I came a little too fast to the bend. I thought that there would have been better friction but it wasn’t. The rear of the car slipped out of the road and then the front of the car slided to the snow bank.

Usually that kind of situation doesn’t cause anything but this time we got stuck, Latvala said disappointedly.

1,6 seconds from the WRC points

Latvala spent Saturday on testing the car but couldn’t find the right kind of feeling to drive. As a evidence of this he slipped out of the road for the second time which, however, didn’t took much time.

– We tried to change the balance of the car and worked hard with stabilizers and other things but it just didn’t help.

Not before than Sunday the car setup felt in place and Latvala drove fastest time of the rally, for third time. Latvala was the fastest on the end stage of the rally, Powerstage of Vårmullsåsen, but despite that he left only 1,6 seconds from the third position and from one WRC-point.

– On the second driving time the surface of the road was so slippery for the first driver on the route. I couldn’t done any better, Latvala described the Powerstage.

– However, now I know that car basic setup is ok and ready for graveled roads of the competitions coming this spring.

Latvala’s team mate from VW Motorsport, Sebastien Ogier, took win in Rally Sweden and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was second, 6,4 seconds behind Ogier. Just like Latvala, also his VW team mate Andreas Mikkelsen had some misfortune during the rally: he led the rally before the final stage but dropped to third position after slipped out of the road to snow bank in Vårmullsåsen.

Latvala gave up battling after final stage to be able to renew car parts for upcoming rallies.

He didn’t received any WRC points, so this was better decision when thinking the next competitions.

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Rallye Monte-Carlo 22 -25 January 2015

Good driving and right tire choices on the alpine roads of France

The alpine roads nearby Gap in France and the seashore alps nearby Monaco offered traditional challenges in Rally Monte Carlo.

The conditions ranged from dry tarmac to snow-covered roads or slippery icy sections – and even to water on the road. And of course, some times there were all of these conditions on the same stage.

Jari-Matti Latvala didn’t enjoy the stages of Monte – not before than this: now he took the second place in the rally with good speed and safe tire choises.

– Now I know how to drive in this rally. Some years I tried to drive far too fast on icy stages, and last year I drove too slowly, he said.

– Here I learned some new things. For first time I drove with slick tires on icy roads. This far I have chosen snow tires for icy stages.

The second place began to seem safe already on early stage when the gaps between the leading positions grew sharply. This was because the main challengers of VW, Sebastien Loeb from Citroen and Kris Meeke dropped out of the top battleship due to mistakes with driving.

According to Latvala he couldn’t afford to slow down, in particular when the new rules prevented to get the split times of other drivers while driving.

Latvala took third position on slippery icy roads after two stages driven on Thursday and reached the second position in Friday night, when Loeb dropped out of the top battle due to a crash.

Problem with brakes in Turin

On Saturday Latvala started his rally with one goal on his mind, trying to keep his position. The conditions nearly took its toll.

– Two kilometers from the start of the first stage the car rear slided when there was sand on the cover of the road. I could have been able to step on the gas and try to fix but there was a bridge coming in front of us, I was afraid to do so and I turned the car to a field. We drove there a short loop and then came back to the road, said Latvala.

– In all, I tried to drive faster whenever there was clearly dry or icy sections, and slower when the surface of the road was slippery blac tarmac or something else a bit vague like snow.

– On Sunday Latvala found his way without setbacks though Col de Turini revealed the problem with brakes.

– With brakes there seemed to be a problem: brake discs, in manner of speaking, glazed. Then the friction lost in certain places – for example when we got up in the stage of Turin and there was snow.

On Saturday there was the same situation on snowy stage of Sisterone, Latvala said.

Team Volkswagen Motorsport celebrated a triple victory when Andreas Mikkelsen was third after Ogier and Latvala.

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