Rally Australia 17. – 20.11.2016

Last rally for VW under the blazing sun of Australia

Last rally of Jari-Matti’s career in Volkswagen ended up in ninth place. Change to fight for the podium of the rally were wrecked to breakage of suspension on the first day.

-The third corner of the first stage was the place with sixth gear over the bridge. I went there with full throttle and just hold with the brake, but the rim hitted to concrete, Latvala said.

The hit broked the support part between support arm and tire, drive shaft was loosen. Latvala has to drive several stage with only front whell drive before the service.

These problems dropped Latvala over seven minutes off the lead. Unless the change to the highest positions were gone, Latvala pointed out that he could have been competing for the victory in this rally, without this misfortune.

In Rally Australia biggest challenge for the drivers was +30 degrees temperature and 50 kilometres long Nambucca marathon stage.

Sometimes I was driving too aggressively and the tyres were very worned out, Latvala summed up.

Latvala drove fastest stage times in rally Australia. Andreas Mikkelsen won and Sebastien Ogier was second in this last rally of VW.


Wales Rally GB 27.-30.10.2016

Drive shaft failure spoiled Latvala’s rally in Wales

Muddy and slippery forest roads of the Wales are almost as well-known as the Finnish ones for Jari-Matti Latvala. This year lady fortune wasn’t with Jari-Matti and Miikka when they started the rally. He celebrated manufacturers’ title with his teammates, Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen after VW had confirmed manufacturers’ championship. However, Latvala didn’t jump to the podium, because he was 7th in the competition.

Latvala had to gave up for his dream of reaching the podium place as the drive shaft went broken at the second last stage of the opening leg, at a junction driven with high speed. At that point Latvala was third in competition.

  • Luckily we didn’t hit with trees and luckily the spectators pushed us back to the road as after the car went backwards and we got stuck in the ditch, Latvala said.
  • Why did the driving shaft went broken? That is something that I don’t know. The roads here are surfaced with rough macadam. It might be hard for the drive shaft’s protection rubbers. Latvala was left far behind from the lead at the opening stage that he drove with care. Then he managed to climb up to the third position.

Damaged drive shaft dropped him to the eight position, 3,43 seconds behind from the lead. After that Latvala started to narrow the gap between Mads Östberg driving ahead, being faster than Norwegian at the final stage. Latvala climped up to the seventh position.

  • The second day of the rally was full of pumpy driving. I didn’t find confidence with braking and couldn’t enjoy driving. In addition I made mistake at the Powerstage, Latvala said.
  • When I managed to pull ahead of Östberg on the final day, I just focused on driving to the finish line and confirming the manufacturer’s championship.

VW’s Sebastien Ogier won the competition and Ott Tänak took the second position.


Rally Catalonia 13.-16.10.2016

Several fastest stage times and retirement in Rally Spain

Jari-Matti Latvala was forced to retire because of the breakage of the drive shaft and the control arm in the first day of the Rally Spain. Rally continued under the super rally regulation and Latvala drove seven fastest times. Sebastien Ogier won the rally with VW Polo R WRC and he confirmed their fourth wrc title.

-That was slow muddy left-right corner combo where something hit to right front wheel and broke the drive shaft. We tried to go on with three drive shafts but then cotrol arm broke and the car was stugged in that kind of place that we need to retire, Latvala summed up the situation.

We could repair the tire on stage, but car was in that kind of muddy place of the road that they weren’t able to fix the problem.

-There wasn’t that kind of safe place that we could safely repair the car, Latvala reviewed the situtation.

Rally Spain started with the short super special stage in Barcelona. The first proper rally day with six gravel stages was the similar to last year. Second and third days were driven on the tarmac stages that needs kind of track driving lines.

-In overall it was a good day for us. Only mistake was puncture in the first stage the afternoon loop. We had “don’t cut” mark in our pace notes, but guys in front of us had also cutted the corner, so we had to decide quickly what to do, and that caused the puncture. Latvala told.

In the last leg of the rally Latvala won three stages out of four possible including Power Stage


Rally de France 29.09. – 02-10.2016

Lack of breaking feeling disturbed Latvala in Corsica

Jari-Matti Latvala told that not very good pre-event test session and lot of civilian traffic during the recce were the issues behind the problems in Corsica. Latvala was fourth in overall results in this rally of 10 000 courses.

There were five stages with length of 49-53 kilometres in the route of total length of 360 special stage kilometres. Especially the brakes were the problem for Latvala during the whole weekend.

– Pre-event test was driven in Corsica, but in bigger relatively fast road. This kind of roads were used in rally last year. But this year situations was different. Almost all of the stages were mix of fast and slower roads. There were lot of slower and more technical sections compared to last years. The feeling for the car was pretty good, but I wasn’t confident for the breaks, summed up Latvala.

Latvala started the rally quite lame. Few changes for the dampers in the service improved the car so that Latvala was able to reached up the third place after the first day. He was 14 seconds of the second place, held by Hyuandai’s Thierry Neuville.

Second day of the rally with almost 170 special stage kilometers was suffer. Latvala hoped that brake setup will be changed to the similar one that were used last year in Corsica.

– Engineers still decided that problem was in faulty brake pads, but it didn’t solved anything, Latvala told.

Third day didn’t change anything. Latvala was fourth in overall and in Power Stage.

– I tried to drive flat out, but when you don’t have 100 % feeling for the car and your pace notes, I wasn’t able to do anything more. Jari-Matti said.

Sebastien Ogier won and Thierry Neuville was in second place in overall results.


Rally Germany 18.-21.08.2016

Problem with the gearbox obsessed in Rally Germany

Jari-Matti Latvala did what he could in Rally German after retiring om the first competition day due to problem with the gearbox. With good driving Latvala earned two points at the Powerstage. He also brought manufactures’ points of great worth for VW.

-It’s clear that retirement was a disappointment when thinking the WRC series and as the Rally China was cancelled. Tire choice and changing conditions made the tarmac rally driven in Trier challenging.

– The target on the final day was taking points at the Powerstage which succeeded, Latvala summed up the competition. When the Powerstage, 14,84 kilometers long Sauerta was driven for the first time On Sunday, Latvala was on the sixth position, 5,4 seconds slower than Thierry Neuville who was the fastest on the stage.

– It was ok but I think I still can make it better, Latvala said.

During the second loop of stages Latvala narrowed the gap between Neuville to 2,3 seconds being second.

–        I did my best and it as ok. It was a tricky stage and it could have been easy to make mistake, Latvala said.

Same thing was seen during the whole competition. The weather conditions turned from damp to wet and cutting on the corners brought mud to the road. Latvala was still able to drive the fastest time at the leg driven on the second competition day and to drive second fastest time at three stages, despite the fact that being 10th car on the road wasn’t the best place to start. This tells that he had right kind of pace.

–        When you’re starting the stage after so many drivers, being carefully at the muddy corners was important, Latvala said.

VW’s Sebastien Ogier won the competition being 20,3 seconds faster than Dani Sordo.


Rally Finland 28.-31.07.2016

Starting place in the main role, Latvala narrowed the gap between Ogier

Starting place played the main role in Neste Oil Rally Finland. It wasn’t only reason for northern Irish Krisk Meek’s win but it ordered a great support in the battle against Jari-Matti Latvala.

Latvala drove three fastest times being second, 29,1 seconds behind Meeke.

Latvala was at fourth position on Friday and Saturday and Meeke at 8th starting place.

The role of the starting position could be seen when thinking how sluggishly did the leader of the rally Sebastien Ogier drive compared to me. When Ouninpohja was driven first time on Saturday, Meeke was 13 seconds faster than me and the result of the starting place was maybe six seconds, Latvala counted.

Rally Jyväskylä was set on the traditional rally roads of Middle-Finland.

The route was a bit renewed since last year, Lempää and Oittila (ex-Mutanen) as a Powerstage made a come back. The rally started in the surroundings of Keuruu and Petäjävesi on Friday and first five stages were Mökkiperä, Halinen, Jukojärvi, Surkee and Horkka. Those were driven twice on the same day.

On the afternoon there was also a short stage of Valtra in Äänekoski. The stage of Harju ended the competition day – the same place where the rally started on Thursday evening.

Latvala was second arriving at the overnight pause being 18,1 seconds behing Meeke. That time included 15 lost seconds when the another rear tyre of Latvala’s car went broken in Jukojärvi.

It was such a dropping junction turning to right where the rear tyre hit the edge, it came away with the rim and busted little later which broke the rear corner, Latvala summed his only mistake during the competition.

Latvala wasn’t satisfied with his driving.

– Probably I pushed too hard and due that the driving was too aggressive.

Ouninpohja was the game changer

Latvala said before the start of the competition that the first driving time in Ouninpohja on Saturday would be the game changer. There was loose gravel on the road and the stage was driven as 33 kilometers long and to opposite direction compared to recent years’ situation.

Meeke was 13 seconds faster than Latvala in Ouninpohja. The gap between drivers grew into half minute which was impossible to reach without Meeke’s mistakes. At least it would have demanded risk taking with 110 % and that was something that Latvala couldn’t take due that Sebastien Ogier slipped out of the road on Friday and lost 16 seconds before the car was pushed back on the route. When the seventh place holding, Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen didn’t drive for the win, Latvala was a very important man for the team.

Meeke didn’t compete for the manufacturers’ points so the second place brought them full 25 for me. When I started to think it, it caused pressures and I couldn’t get maximum out of myself for driving. Fighting for the win against Meeke would have demanded it, Latvala said.

The leg of Ouninpohja, Päijälä, Pihlajakoski and Saalahti was driven twice on Saturday. Meeke was in lead of 41 seconds before Latvala when the twice driven stages of Lempää and Oitti were started on Sunday. Latvala got one WRC point from the Powerstage as he was third.

What is positive thing in this competition is that the gap between Ogier in WRC results narrowed with 19 points, said Latvala who took second podium place for 21st time during his career.

The gap between Ogier and Latvala narrowed to 56 points. Meeke made rally history as he was the first British driver ever win in Jyväskylä. His average speed was also the fastest ever; 126,60 km/h.


Rally Italy 09 – 12 July 2016

Latvala earned WRC-points and jumped to the podium

Last year Jari-Matti Latvala lost his chance for the win battle in Rally Sardinia due to a puncture and problems with damper. This year he took the second place. It’s his best position in Rally Sardinia since 2009 when he won.

This year the winner was Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who was able to take all out of his good starting position as eighth car on the road during two first driving days. Latvala who was sixth car on the road on two days drove three fastest times and fought for the win but this time the Belgian was 24,8 seconds faster.

This time he was faster than me. I couldn’t beat him when the stages were driven for second time, Latvala admitted.

Latvala took one WRC point at the Powerstage and managed to keep his team mate Sebastien Ogier behind. Ogier who leads the WRC was third in Sardinia.

Rally Sardinia took place on slightly better conditioned roads than what it did last year. There were two new stages compared to last year’s rally.

Monti di Ala the scene of the win battle

Latvala started the competition with care because he had got WRC points from only two out of five competitions in this season.

We really needed to drive the competition without mistakes and take manufacturer points. We managed to do that which increased the gap between us and Hyundai on manufacturer’s serie, Latvala summed up.

On the first leg of the competition there was a problem with the front differential lock of the car. The car oversteered and understeered and consumed the tire badly.

I could drive fast only at short stages and at straight, fast sections but not in the slower sections, Latvala said.

On the Friday’s leg Latvala lost the win battle against Neuville with numbers 2-5. On the second leg of the rally Latvala drove one fastest time and climbed up being only three seconds behind Hyuindai’s Belgian driver.

Neuville took a decisive step when the leg of three stages was driven for second time on afternoon. He was 10,8 seconds faster than Latvala at 22 kilometers long Monti di Ala -stage.

Neuville didn’t drive for the manufacturers’ points at this competition, so he could take more risks than me, which was seen at the stage of Monti di Ala. On the other hand, I may have started the stage too carefully as I broke the car there on three last year.

Neuville started the final day of the competition being 16 second ahead of Latvala and kept his position.


Rally Poland 30.06.-03.07.2016

Latvala at fifth place, paces were slow in Poland

Rally Poland was driven in Mikolajiki area just like it was driven last year. About third of the route was renewed since last year. Sunday was rainy day which made exactly the thing that rally organizers hoped: the average speed of the winner was dropped to 116,5 km/h. Last year Sebastien Ogier’s drove with the speed of 121,41 km/h.

Third position wasn’t exactly what Jari-Matti Latvala was reaching for in Poland but after a difficult start it was a great success. He found a good pace for the rainy leg of four stages on the final competition day.

I don’t remember ever driving on conditions like that. There was lot of mud on the driving grooves when the stages were driven for second time. At some places Dakar-rally came to my mind, Latvala summed up the final day of the rally.

Latvala had a hard battle against his VW-team mate Sebastien Ogier at the two last stages of the rally. Ogier was at sixth place and climped up to only 2,4 seconds behind Latvala when there were two stages left.

Before the second last stage the rain was getting harder. At that moment I found that I must not give up. I knew that Ogier was going to strike there, Latvala said.

Latvala took fastest time being nearly 5 seconds ahead of Ogier at 20 kilometers long Baranowo stage. In general competition he managed to keep the French behind though he lost 0,7 seconds to Ogier at the Powerstage.

I tried to drive with the same pace at the Powerstage as I drove at the previous stage but the driving was a bit difficult at some points which affected on results. Propably I should have driven the first section of the stage faster, Latvala said.

Ogier behind at the statistics of fastest times

Latvala took two fastest times in Poland being ahead of Ogier at the statistics of stage wins with the numbers 453-442. The duo is at 12. and 13. positions at the statistics.

On the two fist competition days Latvala couldn’t find such aggressive driving pace and touch what the super ast gravel roads would have demanded for.

Maybe I was too tired at the start due to promo jobs before the rally. I couldn’t give my best for driving, Latvala admitted.

Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen took his second WRC-win from the competition. That was possible as the leader of the rally faced problems – just the same what happened last time. Now Ott Tänak from Estonia lost his chances for his first win due to a puncture and took second place. Mikkelsen took his last win in Rally Catalonia in last autumn when Ogier made a mistake at the last stage of the rally.


Rally Portugal 19 – 22 May 2016

Latvala earned points in Portugal – with blisters in his hands

Jari-Matti Latvala decided to brighten the situation in Portugal with sarcasm after the power steering went broken.

– One can ask what wrong have me and Miikka done for earn this situation, Latvala said not so seriously.

This was second time in a row when Latvala was vexed by the technique problems that ruined his chances to drive for the victory. In Portugal the power steering went broken on the first competition day at the first leg.

– I hit a hole at the same place where Haydden Paddon and Ott Tänak crashed out. Then the car jumped a bit out of line, and the sump shield moved a bit and that broke a bolt. Engine rotated a bit, the pipe of the power went broken and the oil spilled out. At the same time the charger belt parted. We could change it but we couldn’t do anything to the broken pipe when the engine had rotated a bit, Latvala described.

When there were four stages left before entering the service break, Latvala fell into ninth position by evening and 3,50 minutes from the lead. On the next day Latvala plastered his hands blistered on previous day and try to reach everything that he was able to get. He climbed into sixth position on third competition day and was near to climb into fifth position at the Powerstage driven in Fafe on Sunday. Latvala gave his everything in Fafe and took second place which offered extra points.

– That went well. There were only one or two small mistakes, Latvala said after he had lost to winner Sebastien Ogier with only 1,2 seconds.

When starting the stage of Fafe Eric Camilli who was at fifth position was 31,9 seconds faster than Latvala. In the finish the gap between drivers was only 5,3 seconds as the French spinned and lost some time as he couldn’t turn the car with the hand brake.

– At least we got WRC-points. It was only second time this year but it took a little bit of our pressures away. It’s a good thing when it comes to the Rally Sardinia, Latvala summed up the situation after the rally.

Meeke took the win – the route was known before

Kris Meeke won the Rally Portugal. Through the whole competition his starting place was 14. which helped him to make use of the roads cleaned from the loose gravel by other drivers. Andreas Mikkelsen climbed into second place when Ogier was forced to slow down because of two punctures. Finally, Ogier was third. In Portugal the route of 19 legs was tolerably same as last year. The biggest renewal was Friday’s 1,85 kilometers long super special stage built at the center of Porto. The rally headquarter was Matosinhos in the north of Porto. The route consisted of 19 stages and 368 stage kilometers was damp in some places due to rain but mainly the route was dry.


Rally Argentina 21 – 24 April 2016

You can’t avoid every stone

If you win six stages at the route of 18 stages, you’re about to win.Jari-Matti Latvala was the lead in the by 14,5 seconds at the routes of Carlos Pasiz in Argentina when 13 stages have been driven. The next stage changed everything.

– There was rock under and a stone on the road. I drove straight over it when the stage was driven for first time without problems. It’s on the driving line, so I decided to drive over it also on the second driving time, Latvala said.

On the second time hitting the stone broke the suspension of the front tire and that broke the bonnet.

– After that I couldn’t handle the car when the pace was still 150-160 km per hour. I nearly managed to keep it on the road but suddenly the car rolled three times, Latvala described the situation.

After the crash the car was fixed in some way for Sunday.

– The chassis beams were undamaged and the front of the car rebuilt so we were able to drive it but not very fast.

Latvala reached the 10th position at the two first stages of Sunday but after that he faced problems at the last stage, El Condor, when driving it for second time.

– There were a stone straight on the driving line which broke the control arm. We had to change it at the stage. There were so many spectators that we needed to make quick repair and then change the place that we could repair it properly. After that we were able to reach the finish line, Latvala described the situation.

Latvala was 16th at the finish and brought two manufacturers’ championship points.

– When you are driving for the victories of the rallies, you can’t avoid every stone.

Otherwise you have to change the tactic and try to reach some other positions, Latvala said.

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon took his first WRC vicotry in Argentina. Sebastien Ogier was second, 14,3 seconds behind the rally winner, and Andreas Mikkelsen was third.

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