FIA

Latvala targets Finnish boost

Jari Matti-Latvala is optimistic he can beat Sebastien Ogier at the upcoming Neste Rally Finland and keep his faint FIA World Rally Championship title hopes alive.

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Ogier raced into a 50-point lead over Latvala at the top of the championship standings after his dominant victory at last week’s LOTOS 71st Rally Poland.

Latvala dropped vital points when he could only finish fifth. He lost valuable time on Saturday afternoon when his VW Polo R WRC sustained serious front suspension damage after hitting a rock.

Ogier’s points tally now stands at 166 points – 12 better than it was at the same stage of his championship-winning season last year. Latvala meanwhile, is on 116 points with half the season remaining.

Latvala is "already motivated" about driving on Finland's fast stages

Latvala cut his teeth on Finland’s ultra-fast gravel stages and he knows that his home stages represent a good opportunity to get his title charge back on track. Neste Rally Finland is held between 31 July and 3 August.

“This (in Poland) was a difficult weekend for me, but I was happy with my performance towards the end,” he said. “I started to get the feeling and the confidence back for the driving, that’s the very important.

“I think and I hope I can have the measure of Seb in Finland. This year the roads are looking good. There are some stages that I like a lot and they’re coming back. I’m already motivated.”

Ogier said he didn’t expect to have such a big points advantage after the seventh round of the WRC season, but was enjoying the cushion.

“The target was to try and maintain the gap (when running first on the road) and now I have an advantage of 50 points,” he said.  “That’s two rallies and there are only six races to go. It’s looking good at this stage.”

Ogier won Neste Rally Finland last season, while Latvala hasn’t won him home event since 2010 when he was driving for Ford.

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