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GP Week : Issue 159
LATVALA: TITLE CHASE IS OFF THE RAILS The moment when Jari-Matti Latvala's third placed Fiesta WRC spun and was stuck off the road in a fence on Day 2 in New Zealand represented the end of any realistic chance of the 2012 World Drivers' championship for the 27 year-old Finn. "It seems to be so this year. I will now just try to finish this rally, then cool down a bit before (the next WRC event) Finland so we can start the second half of the season afresh. That is the plan. We will see what we can do up to the end of the year, but obviously I am now realistically out of the Drivers' championship. “It is quite bad. I had seen this coming. I already realised it when I had to miss going to Argentina (because of Jari-Matti's injury, when Dani Sordo drove the Fiesta in his place). I started to realise the facts, but as long as Fords have a chance, I want to fight for the manufacturers' championship and still want to try to win the rallies. “Of course I will help Petter if he has any chance (of the Drivers' title) but it is not easy for him either. But that's the facts. It seems Citroen are very strong at the moment. The 2012 season is yet another instance when the curse of the Ford number 1 position has struck. M-Sport chief Malcolm Wilson said: "The reality is that Ford drivers are still winning the majority of the special stages this year in the WRC, and we know we are competing against the best team there has ever been in the WRC. “As for Jari-Matti, he is still the only driver who can take the fight (for victory) to Sebastien Loeb. We know he is the only guy who can beat Sebastien." Goin' back to his roots ... Nine years on, Jari-Matti Latvala will be returning to the scene of his first international victory, when he tackles the Auto24 Historic Rally Estonia at the wheel of a Ford Escort BDA. It was in 2003 that the 17 year-old Jari-Matti scored his first international victory at the wheel of his Toyota Corolla WRC in Estonia. The Historic sector of Rally Estonia, organised by former rally driver Urmo Aava, counts as a qualifying round of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, the Finnish round for which, the Lahti Historic Rally, Jari-Matti has won twice before. Rally Estonia takes place 20-21 July, two weeks before the world championship Neste Rally Oil Finland. This year there will be a family Latvala outing across the Baltic Sea, as Jari-Matti's father Jari will compete on the Rally Estonia itself in a restored Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III. The event will provide a warm-up event for NORF, and already other entries have come from last year's winner Mads Ostberg and also Martin Prokop. 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: WRC >>> NEWS