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GP Week : Issue 168
RALLY >>> INTERVIEW the same rally with guys like Marcus and Colin McRae. It felt amazing just to be able to talk with them. I had been a fan of rallying since I was a child so it was an incredible feeling to be here with them. “That year Marcus was leading the rally until they had a little hydraulic failure and they lost a bit their concentration and went off the road with a muddy corner at Eppynt.” Any other special memories, like when Ford entered you in the 2003 Acropolis, on only your second WRC event? “It was a special moment to be entered by a manufacturer at the age of 18! It was a very hot rally. I wasn’t used to the heat and was feeling so tired, it was incredible. “In those days you didn’t need to use the three layer (fireproof) under wear. I had a t-shirt and every time I came to the evening service it was completely wet. But at the evening service when I took off the overalls it was so hot and warm with the wind that by the end of the service when I got back to the hotel, the t-shirt was fully dry! “I finished 10th overall, the best WRC result for someone of my age. It must have been a record at the time but I think it has been beaten since! One very special moment on that rally was in one stage I beat Didier Auriol by one second.” After that things went up and down. “2004 was a very bad year, a very difficult year for me when we did the Junior WRC. Basically we took some steps down. We didn’t go up. “But then 2005 was a good year and I remember I won Group N in both Sardinia and Corsica which were great memories. Then in 2006 these led to the opportunity to drive for Stobart during the year and especially on this event (WRGB) when I finished fourth overall. That year I also had the wins in the Production series in Australia and New Zealand, which were very important moment in my career. “I got the chance to drive for Stobart in 2007 for the full year, when I reached my first podium finish. Earlier in 2007, one of the great moments was leading the Rally Sardegna. It was the first world rally championship event I was leading. Coming to the service park after that was really good feeling. Gabriel Favero, who had done so much to help both me and Mikko in rallying in smaller events in Italy was there to congratulate us. “And then came my first world rally championship victory on the Swedish Rally in 2008.” And sometimes some very bad downs! “Nothing can compare with losing second place in Poland in 2009 on the final stage, but in between the disappointments I have been very happy. I have had the chance to do and see a lot of things. If I had been able to learn some things without making mistakes my career would have been going for ward sooner, but that’s not always the case. You can always say “but if” after wards. But I’m still happy where I am and hungry to get more victories.” What is your plan for the next 10 years? “These days I am a factory driver but for sure I need to keep my place at this level. There are many young drivers who want to come and be in my position! My next big dream is to win the world rally championship, to be world champion in rallying, and meanwhile I still need to win a WRC tarmac rally. “These are my dreams for the future. Ten years feels a long time ahead and Ihopethatin10yearsIcanstillbea factory driver.” Where it all started: Network Q Rally of Great Britain, 2002. Latvala/Williamson, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 44 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: