Battling for the title and team speculations
Sebastien Loeb was forced to be disappointed in his home rally because he had to retire due to a technical fault which was very surprising. The Citroen has been most reliable through his whole career so it was hard to understand this. But a fault is a fault. Loeb’s retirement made the situation in the series very interesting. Both Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen are now leading with 196 points each and even Sebastien Ogier is close by with his 193 points. Hirvonen wasn’t at his best in France but he received lots of points because Petter Solberg, who was third, was disqualified. His car was too light. I hope Mikko could win the title. There are two more rallies to be driven – in Catalonia and Wales – both of which suit Hirvonen in my opinion. And if he performs well in both of them he has a good chance to win the title. Loeb is still the number one candidate to be the world champion. He has done badly in the last two rallies which of course gives him more pressure. And furthermore Hirvonen was number one and three in those two rallies. I believe that team Citroen won’t let Ogier challenge Loeb for the title; he may win the championship only if Loeb gets into trouble in the last two events. During rally France there were lots of speculations on changing teams. Hirvonen may go from Ford to Citroen and Ogier the other way round. Hirvonen has been working for Ford for years and knows the team so well that going to the Citroen team wouldn’t be easy. Working in a French team would be different and he should also get to know the team personnel. There is a threat, too: he should agree on being driver number two (Loeb being number one). But there might be some advantages, too. First of all variety is a spice of life and the car would definitely be a 100 per cent competitive and reliable. If Hirvonen could drive well and Loeb would meet some problems Mikko could battle for the title. There has been minor misunderstanding between Loeb and Ogier during this season. I believe it depends on their characteristics. If Ogier would go to Ford he – this is how I believe – would like to beat Loeb more than to be difficult for his own team. I get along well with Ogier and I think I could work with him. Of course it would be nice to continue as a team mate with Hirvonen. Perhaps during next month all this will be clear. I feel good after rally France. For the first time I won the last stage of the race (the power stage) and got three points of it. This victory was special because it game on tarmac. My driving on that surface was better than ever and I felt like going somewhere. My performance was a bit unstable though. I had a minor off road incident on Friday and even on the last day of the rally I made a mistake in driving.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s columns will be published in Ilta-Sanomat freshly after each rally.
Invalid Displayed Gallery