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GP Week : Issue 168
RALLY >>> INTERVIEW My first 10 years Wales Rally GB provided not only a win, but a 10-year marker in the WRC career of Jari-Matti Latvala. MARTIN HOLMES sat down for an exclusive chat with Ford's Finnish star Karl-Heinz Goldstein 10 years ago a 17 year-old Finnish driver made his first appearance on a world championship rally. This was Jari-Matti Latvala, the son of an enthusiastic amateur driver back home. His first WRC event was not in Finland, where he would have had to wait until he was 18, but in Britain at the 2002 Network Q Rally of Great Britain, where younger drivers are allowed to take part. This year he competed in the Wales Rally GB, as the event is now known, for the 11th time. He is still only 27 years old, and won for the second year in succession. The last 10 years have been a long and dramatic adventure ... "When we started out we didn’t really have a 10-year plan but for sure my family wanted me to be a factory driver. “Maybe we had an unofficial six-year plan to try and get there and we managed to do that. But first of all our aim was not so much to get results but get experience, especially on the world championship rallies on the different surfaces and locations. “After that we started to be a bit more serious in trying to get into a full factory team, which we managed to do in 2006 with the Stobart M-Sport team. “My father had been driving rallies since 1981. He was the best Junior driver ‘83, he won the Finnish championship in ‘84 in Group N and he always made enough money from his company business to drive on rallies and then advertise his company on the rallies. He never really had anybody to support him apart from himself, but he wanted to help me when he saw I had an interest for rallying. “Everything started happening quite quickly at the beginning of my career. Timo Jouhki arranged a test session in Finland for young drivers back in September 2001. I had done small single-venue events, they call them rallysprints in Finland, before that and I had some good results there, so I got an invitation to go to the test. First WRC win – Sweden, 2008 Jari-Matti Latvala