27 May 08
Following his incredible salvage job on Rally d’Italia - where he almost took second place after dropping to 14th on day one - BP-Ford team driver Jari-Matti-Latvala hopes to carry his recent competitive form to the next rally in Greece.
In Sardinia Latvala set an early pace that surprised both Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen before an off road excursion on SS2 seemed to have dropped him out of contention for the win.
But by Sunday Latvala was right back in the battle for the lead, and although he wasn’t quite able to achieve a dream finish this time, he stamped his authority on the rally by winning 10 of its 17 stages.
Fourth in the drivers’ standings, Latvala made his World Rally Car debut in a Focus RS in Greece in 2003 when he was just 18. "That was a very special moment," said the 23-year-old Finn. "It was only my second world rally and I was so tired from the heat because it was a new experience for me in the hot conditions. My car was totally reliable and I finished 10th, which at 18 years old was amazing.”
This year Latvala is hoping Greece we be another high point for him and co-driver Miikka Anttila.
"This is my fifth start but I expect it to be just as tough,” said Latvala. Last year's rally contained a 48km stage which gave us difficulties with tyres. This year that test has been split into two so it should be easier for tyres, cars and drivers. My podium in Italy has given me great confidence after Argentina and Jordan weren't so good for me, and I believe I can take that pace to Greece."