29 Feb 08
Day one of Rally Mexico belonged to Jari-Matti Latvala. Despite a less than ideal running position of second car on the road, the 22-year-old Finn was quick from the off and took the lead on the very first stage. Latvala held on to the position for the whole day and even the pressure of a hard-chasing Sebastien Loeb didn’t seem to bother him.
“Today has been a surprise for me to be honest,” said Latvala. “We had a very good start in the morning and were able to keep the pace in the afternoon again. We were a little bit faster than Sebastien so it’s been a good day. I certainly got a confidence boost from Sweden, but the whole package is working well now - the feeling, the set-up, the car, co-driver, pace-notes - it’s all come together well.”
Latvala will start day two with an overall lead of 9.6 seconds but with the worst possible road position as first car through the stages. But the Finn doesn’t believe conditions at the head of the field will be much worse: “It will be interesting to be first on the road tomorrow, but we have been second car today so it’s not such a big thing, but okay we need to just go as quick as we can and keep the same style as this morning. That’s the key.”
After the first day of competition Sebastien Loeb holds second place, 9.6 seconds behind Latvala, with Chris Atkinson 12 seconds further back in third. Petter Solberg is fourth, 1min 1sec behind the leader, while Mikko Hirvonen rounds of the top-five 1min 10seconds adrift of his Ford team-mate.