19 Feb 08
Date of birth:
WRC points at end of 2007:
First WRC win:
Jari-Matti Latvala competed on his first rally when he was only 16 years old and has not looked back since. Since his debut, Latvala has competed in Finnish National events and some British Championship rallies. He also went to Italy to contest the Subaru Cup challenge - replacing Mikko Hirvonen in the Motoring Club entry - and unlike his new teammate, he won the series! His talents were quickly recognised. For the 2003 Acropolis Rally soon after his 18th birthday, he was given a drive by the Ford Motor Company. Then he had the chance again through Motoring Club along with several P-WRC and J-WRC events. Latvala signed on to compete with Ford in four rounds in 2006. The young gun showed no signs of immaturity and produced solid performances during the events.
Latvala was in a 2006-spec Focus for 2007 and had a lot to prove. Teamed in the Stobart team with Henning Solberg, he had a remarkable season in an outdated car, and at a disadvantage through seldom having an ideal car for pre-event recce. The one special thing about the season was his new self-confidence. No longer did he have to accept drives when and where they cropped up, now he had a solid future.
The prospect of the Hirvonen-Latvala partnership at BP-Abu Dhabi is fascinating. Both have front wheel drive backgrounds, and both have had the same patrons in Finland and in Italy.