14 Jan 08
"He's still young, and still needs more experience, but he was only 21 points behind Sebastian in 2007, and that was with Marcus there. I think it's going to be a lot closer this year than some people think," says Wilson.
With Hirvonen settling into Gronholm's shoes, Wilson is grooming Jari-Matti Latvala to be the ideal support driver. Although Latvala says he and Wilson have not yet discussed precise tactics for the year ahead, Latvala is hoping to emulate Hirvonen's career path.
"What I have done so far is go quite quick, but I haven't always got to the end of the rally," says Latvala. "So I now have to accept that I need to get the points, and find a way to drive fast and get a good year of consistent driving. If you look at Mikko in 2006, that's a very good example of what I want to achieve. Of course I'll try for podiums, but my priority is to get points - as many as possible."
Wilson says that Latvala's event objectives will vary throughout the season. "No two events will be the same, but in many ways it'll be the same strategy we adopted with Mikko; If Mikko sets off and he's got a good position then Jari-Matti will be told to play a holding position and think about the manufacturers' points.
"On events which are unfamilar to Jari-Matti he'll definitely be under instruction to try and finish and get that experience for the future - that's the most important thing. We're not just looking at the short term with Jari-Matti, and it would be crazy to throw away opportunity after opportunity. That said, I firmly believe that he already has to be one of the favourites for next year's rally GB - he's done it six times - and towards the end of the year I'm expecting he can win the odd rally."