Rally France 2012

I had tested a Formula Renault F4 on Le Mans Bugatti track with Didier Andrcn as my teacher. I wanted to become a better driver on tarmac. We concentrated on braking and using the throttle in different kinds of corners. I had an opportunity to drive in rain, too, which was good but I also realized that I will need more practice of wet conditions. This was my first time in such a small formula car and it increased my knowledge of how to drive on tarmac but all in all a formula car is rather different from a WRC car. I like the tarmac event in France because the grip on the roads is good and the roads are smooth both in the mountains and in the vineyards. The race was good for me. I was even able to challenge Sebastien Loeb on clean sections. The muddy and dirty sections were bad for me. This was Loeb’s home race so I knew that I had to succeed 110% if I wanted to beat Loeb. I knew that the long stages were the crucial ones. On the longest stage of the rally one damp corner succeeded to surprise me and I went into a ditch. There was not much damage in my car but mud started to gather into the rims and made the driving very difficult and shaky so in the braking it felt like my eyes were not following the driving. This happened on Saturday morning and I lost over 20 seconds which was a safe enough gap for Loeb. I tried to push as much as I could but Loeb did not make any mistakes, not even on Sunday when it was pouring with rain. Loeb won the race and the ninth Title plus team Citroen won the manufacturer’s title. I was number two some 15 seconds behind Loeb (my best result on tarmac in the series) and Mikko Hirvonen was third. In the finish the celebrating of Loeb was unparalleled in the world championships series.

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

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