08 Feb 08
Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson says he won’t prevent Jari-Matti Latvala from trying for his first ever WRC victory on this weekend’s Swedish Rally.
Latvala holds a commanding rally lead after winning all of the forest stages of day one. And with two days s of the competition still to go, Wilson says he won’t stop Latvala from taking his first win. “I don’t see why Jari-Matti can’t win this rally,” he said. “There won’t be any orders from the team. It’s really no different to the situation when Mikko won Norway ahead of Marcus Gronholm last year.”
Wilson said he had spoken to Latvala earlier in the day to give him advice - but not to tell him to slow down: “At the first re-group I got Jari and Miikka [Anttila] together. I told Jari to keep his concentration, make sure he doesn’t cut the corners and to stay out of trouble - and he’s done exactly that. I can’t ask for anything more.
“I always felt that he would do well,” Wilson added. “And running tenth on the road in these conditions I did feel he could have an advantage. But I didn’t think it would have been as big as it is - I’ve got to be honest.”
Ford’s lead driver Mikko Hirvonen is in second place overall, more than 45 seconds adrift of his team-mate. But despite being slower than Latvala on all of the day’s stages, Hirvonen’s performance also drew praise from Wilson: “I know what Mikko’s game plan will be for this rally, so I’m not concerned,” he said. “With Loeb out of the picture he has a good chance to take some valuable championship points. He’s also had a difficult run as first car on the road, so I’m delighted with what he’s done today.”