14 Jun 08
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver Jari-Matti Latvala says his ideal finishing position on day two of Rally Turkey is where his is now; in second place and just behind the rally leader.
But after playing a tactical game on Friday to earn a more advantageous road position for himself and his team today, Latvala could be at the receiving end of some similar manoeuvring tonight to assist his team-leader Mikko Hirvonen’s world title challenge.
Latvala said he had pushed flat out on Saturday’s opening stages, but had lost time as a result of over driving on SS10. Nonetheless the Finn was only 2.9sec adrift of Hirvonen’s lead after the second stage.
“I’m going to keep my speed high because I don’t wasn’t Mikko to get away,” he said. “But if I was leading, I would need a cushion of at least 20, but more like 30 seconds, to be comfortable on Sunday’s stages. That’s what you need.”
Hirvonen revealed that he too would be happiest to end Saturday’s competition just behind the leader. “I think Jari-Matti’s right,” he said. “That would be a good place to be. But it’s a long way off yet. For now I just have to see how fast the boys around me are driving. Even with a better road position it’s not going to be so easy to get too far ahead of Sebastien. Okay, we can probably take some time out of him, but we don’t know yet if it’s going to be enough. Also Jari-Matti and Gigi are driving very well too. All I can do is go flat-out through the next four stages and then we’ll see.”
As fifth car though today’s stages, and running after Latvala, Hirvonen holds the tactical advantage in the battle with his team-mate and would be able to drop behind him on the final stage if the situation remained as it is now. Hirvonen, however, said it was too early to be planning another last stage switch. “It all depends on the times; we’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.