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GP Week : Issue 36
>>WRCINSIGHT #2 – Jari-Matti Latvala – Ford IT seemed inevitable that Jari-Matti would end up as the number two driver at BP Ford Abu Dhabi this year, but during the pre-season negotiations nobody was taking it for granted. His performance in 2007 with the Stobart team was amazing, culminating with the Wales Rally GB where he proved to be the fastest driver on the event –losing out only because his windscreen wipers did not always work. J-M was always special, and when he became the youngest driver to be offered a full points- counting drive in a World Chamionship team, ever, it was just another notch. The age of 22 is a stage of life when everything can go wrong or right. In 2008 they went both ways for J-M. After a mistake at Monte Carlo he scored his first World Rally win in Sweden, completely over- shadowing his team leader Mikko Hirvonen. He then had a disastrous mid season spell, when he made a series of mistakes in Finland, Germany and New Zealand. He was demoted to Stobart for the next two asphalt events, and this was the best thing that could have happened. He matured out of all recognition, coming to learn how to get the best out of Pirelli’s tyres. He came back full of confidence in Japan and immediately gained a most important second place, which kept his team in the championship. It is easy to misplace Jari- Matti and underplay the task he is facing. In this age where youth matters most of all, he is someone who is leading the young brigade in rallying. 63