Second place in Catalonia – despite of flat tyres
Two flat tyres and problems with badly bleeded brakes didn’t prevent Jari-Matti Latvala from achieving a podium place in Rally Catalonia. Six fastest times, steady driving and Sebastien Ogier’s retirement brought second place for Jari-Matti. Latvala started as second on the final day of the rally but then one tire got damaged by gravel and Latvala lost eight seconds and falled to third place when Andreas Mikkelsen climbed up on the ranking. This leaded to a fierce chase but Mikkelsen managed to keep his position and reached the win for the first time as Sebastien Ogier hit the railing at the final stage and lost the victory that seemed sure. Same time Latvala climbed up to second. – Andreas definitely earned his win. He was close to victory already in Rally Sweden but crashed into the snow at the final stage, Latvala thought back.
Good driving on gravel
Second podium place in Rally Catalonia was fourth in a row for Latvala. Rally was driven around area of Salou. Just like last year the competition started with spectator stage in Barcelona, On Friday rally was driven on gravel and then two days on well surfaced tarmac just like on motordrome speedway. Half of the route was renewed after last year. Last year in Catalonia Latvala experienced a loss on the gravel roads driven on Friday. Now he was opening the route as second right after Ogier, so plowing the loose gravel boomeranged back on the afternoon. On the afternoon Latvala managed to lead the rally during three stages, when Ogier climbed up to first place at the last stage of the leg. After that Ogier was ahead of Latvala four seconds. – The stage driven on Thursday in Barcelona went to pot. I made a wrong choise with tyres. This time the first stage on the morning was sticky and there wasn’t enough trying but after that driving went better, Latvala summed.
Bleeding brakes and unnecessary weight
On Saturday Latvala’s dream of battling for the win broke as the car got a flat tyre. Problems with brakes paved the way for this. When the team changed the brakes designed for asphalt after Friday’s gravel roads, the bleeding wasn’t done properly. -I and Miikka bleeded brakes before and after two first stages of Saturday morning. Only after that they started to work, Latvala said. – Once we got the brakes to work, I was a little bit hyperactive after the stressful situation. I couldn’t enough calm myself down and I hit concrete and a rim got damaged. The flat tyre cost 53 seconds for Latvala and dropped him to fourth place. However, before the final day he climbed up to second position with a series of fastest times. In addition to the flat tyre, on final day Latvala was annoyed by team engineer’s recommendation of taking two spare tyres into the car. It made the car pushing strongly on slowly driven and uphill junctions. Despite the problems in the end Latvala was only 3,1 seconds away from victory.