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GP Week : Issue 150
WRC >>> news IT WAS LIKE THIS... Jari-Matti explains Jari-Matti Latvala has given the background to the crisis which has sidelined the Finnish rally star from the forthcoming Rally Argentina. Speaking to the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, he explained that Nordic cross-country skiing is part of his normal training routine. Close to the end of an 18 km circuit at the Levi ski-centre everything came to a stop, suddenly and unexpectedly: "I was on the last downhill stretch coming to the cabin when something hit the ski. I never saw what I hit because it had been snowing. It was like running your bike into pavement and flying over the handlebars. I flew straight ahead and landed heavily on the left shoulder. “I tried to get up but then I realised it was no good. The pain was immense. I've never felt such pain before. The collar bone had broken into two pieces, and it was pressing the ner ve at the neck. I almost lost consciousness while trying to get up." Behind the scenes, his co-driver Miikka Anttila explained that there was some chance he could have driven in Argentina, but it made no sense: "Things now seem to be going alright for Jari. The operation, which was carried out in Helsinki after he was flown back from Lapland, seemed straightfor ward. The only complication was there was not only a fracture but a slight dislocation of the collar bone as well. “Jari had been up with the family over the Easter holiday, and looking for ward to his cross-kart race at Levi with Mikko, which now never happened. Intensive physiotherapy will begin in 10 days or so and next week Jari and I are going to get back in a car and practice making pacenotes again, before we forget how to do it! “Don't ask me anything else. It doesn't help thinking about what happened! There seems however to be nothing to stop us being back again in time for the Acropolis." Poor Latvala has an unfortunate habit of finding things unexpectedly in the road. Argentina 2011, Mexico this year, now THIS! One day it will all go according to plan. The one major missing factor in Rally Argentina is the absence of the majority of the leading Argentine drivers. There are various reasons for this. Firstly, the success of the Maxi Rally formula means that the majority of top line national drivers use these cars. Last year the FIA allowed Maxi Rally cars (of which there were three examples – Chevrolet, Ford, Volkswagen) to run on the event under Class 3, the class for traditional Group N4 cars. This year the FIA have decided that Maxi Rally cars, all of which remain unhomologated by the FIA, and only by national authorities, shall not be allowed to compete in Class 3. Instead they must compete on a separate event. Secondly, Rally Argentina does not qualify for the national championship, but a national championship event run out of Tucuman, some 700km away to the north of Cordoba will be held one week later. For these reasons the only well known national driver expected to compete on the event is Marcos Ligato. He will compete in a Group N specification Subaru Impreza, instead of a Chevrolet Agile Maxi Rally, which is the type of car he prepares and personally uses in national championship competition. His entry on Rally Argentina rounds off a most incredible motor sport career for 57 year old Eliseo Salazar. The height of his career? Eliseo has enjoyed a remarkable breadth of experience, the only driver known to have raced in Formula 1, Le Mans, Indianapolis, Dakar ... and now the world rally championship. Television viewers will most fondly remember him for an out-of-car experience when he had retired from the 1982 German Grand Prix, then he suffered a very public physical assault by Nelson Piquet, with whose BMW, Salazar’s ATS had collided. At the end of his active competition career on the racetracks of the world, Salazar took up rally driving in his native Chile. He drove for the Hyundai importers’ team in 2002 before moving on to drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in 2007. Where are all the 'Argies'? The Salazar factor ... 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: