Problem with brakes and wrong tyre choice ruined Latvala’s chance to win
Despite the second place and seven fastest stage times including the win of Powerstage, Jari-Matti Latvala wasn’t so happy after Rally Australia. He lost the victory with only 6,8 seconds to his team mate Sebastien Ogier. Without brake problems on the first special stage and the wrong tyre choice caused by wrong weather forecast Latvala would have fought for the victory.
24 special stages of rally were driven in fast, hard-based but partly technical and rocky gravel roads.
Rally Australia were driven in Coffs Harbour area, ca.500 km to north from Sydney. Special stages were mostly known from earlier years.
– On the first special stage in the first brake I noticed that the brakes were soft. The movement of the brake pedal was long. Luckily we managed to fix it. However, we could be able to chase the victory without that problem, Latvala said.
Cause to the brake problem Latvala lost over seven seconds to the lead on the first special stage. On the second day, he managed to reach the leading position. Day started with nearly 49 kilometers long, fast marathon special stage of Nambucca.
Latvala dropped to second position when Nambucca was driven for second time in the afternoon.
Latvala chose the soft rear tyres and hard front tyres but it turned out that four hard tyres would have been the right choose. Ogier took three hard tyres and one soft tyre and fought his way to the lead. Latvala didn’t get much consolation in knowing that part of the leading drivers made even worse tyre choices due to chance of rain.
– It seemed that it’s going to rain on the stage. There were couple of showers on the area, Latvala told.
– On the special stage I noticed right after the start that soft rear tyres wouldn’t work in these conditions.
Ogier is no longer faster
With his fast speed Latvala managed to keep the gap between Ogier as 11,8 seconds before the last leg consisted of six special stages. During that leg the gap was only 6,8 seconds.
– The positive thing here was that I could win and challenge Ogier. He used to be an expert with the rallies driven on gravel like Mexico and Argentina rallies but he is no longer faster than me, Latvala said.
Trio Ogier, Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen drove triple victory and hence they secured the second manufacturers’ championship in a row to VW. In the WRC battle Ogier continues in the lead of 50 points before Latvala.
Citroen’s Kris Meeke was fourth and M-Sport’s Mikko Hirvonen was fifth with his Ford.