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GP Week : Issue 125
to recognise me. I think I was probably getting more media coverage, people started to recognise me when I was going in petrol stations and things like that.” Living in the same world as Sebastien Loeb, do you feel he is the only person who stops you being the greatest? “He is the best driver in rallying history, but you must not allow that to stop you thinking you cannot do better. What I thinkisIwanttobeasgoodashimor even better. I want to work for that. But obviously it is difficult. “Let’s face it, in the future someone else will do what he has done. To win so many titles in a row is very difficult to do but he is the type of driver that you think you want to be like.” Is there something about Loeb that has told Latvala to try and improve himself in a particular way? Has he noticed something about the way that Loeb is or the way that he does things that would help him become better? “Basically, he is analysing all the time how the rally is going. During the rally he always knows the situation. Like in Argentina, for example, he is one minute behind and suddenly he comes up and wins the rally. He knows when to attack, he doesn’t take any more risks than are needed so he plays very wisely and knows what he is taking from the rally.” Does Jari-Matti think a lot about rallies? “I have a big enthusiasm for the rally, for sure. Okay, sometimes it will help, sometimes it might be a little bit too much. You can’t think about rallying all the time, you need something else as well. “I have some other sports that I am doing like orienteering and cross-country skiing and then I enjoy watching movies and things like that. But for sure I have a big enthusiasm for rallying. Even last weekend I was driving my father’s rear- drive Ford Escort as a zero car in a Finnish championship rally. So that tells that I have a big passion for rallying ... but yes I can do something else as well.” Looking around the other drivers in the championship, how does Jari rate his team-mate? “Mikko is very calm, he doesn’t make mistakes, he can keep driving at a high level all the time. Myself, I think I have a little bit more energy, in that I am a bit more enthusiastic. For me I really want to fight for the victories, so you might see a little bit more of this in my driving compared to Mikko.” Four years ago Latvala said that the difference between himself and Sebastien Loeb and Mikko was that they made good times every special stage, you didn’t. Are you getting better? “I have improved from that, but there are still some little small details to be improved. Tarmac is one area but I have improved that, but I still need to improve further. And if the conditions are changeable you need to be able to adjust immediately. That is something I need to improve. Sebastien Loeb is good at that ... really, really good.” And what about Loeb’s teammate, Sebastien Ogier? What of his progress? “ The way he has gone up to the top level of rallying, he did in half the time that I took. It is incredible the progress he has made. It shows what capability he has. I think he is probably the quickest guy in the championship. But it is a difficult sport – to be a world champion in rallying you need so much experience. Titles don‘t just happen like that. It is one of the most difficult sports because you really need to get that experience, but what Ogier has done he has got the experience and improved himself very quickly.” What is Latvala’s greatest achievement, the thing that he is most proud of so far in his career? “I think my first win in Rally Sweden is still the highest thing, followed by victory in Rally Finland last year. I rate the Swedish win victory higher because it was all about beating my idol Henri Toivonen’s record,” (as being the youngest WRC winner). And what is the plan for the rest of 2011? “ We have had some difficulties in the last three rallies. The performance of the car is great, it is really quick ... we have a really really good car and it is strong and reliable. But little things have got out of balance. “I really hope we can find that balance again and get good results so that the team can achieve the manufacturers’ title. That is how we are going to concentrate now.” WRC FEATURE >> Left: Latvala on his WRC debut in 2002 at the Rally of Great Britain. Middle: A young Latvala, and perhaps where it all started – in the family garden in Tuuri. Above: Latval the youngest ever works driver in the WRC, standing next to his Focus at the 2003 Acropolis Rally