Latvala is making a guest appearance at this weekend’s gravel rally, which is based in Otepaa and is a round of the FIA Historic European Championship.
Last year he and co-driver Asko Sairanen won the event in Latvala’s own Ford Escort RS Mk2 BDA. But with his move from Ford to Volkswagen’s WRC squad this season, the historic rally car enthusiast has switched to something more appropriate.
“The quattro has been one of my dream cars since I was a child,” he told WRC Live’s Becs Williams after Thursday’s test session.
“On our second run through I had a really good feeling in it. I was expecting it to be very difficult to drive - but it’s not. It’s actually very calm and the car’s handling is good on these flowing roads. The most difficult part is when you are braking hard for a tight corner; there’s no anti lag system – apart from your right foot – so you have to pump the throttle to keep the turbo spinning otherwise you have no power coming out of the corner.”
Latvala shakedown time of 1m 37.6s compared well to that of Ford Focus WRC driver Georg Gross, who was quickest of the modern entries in 1m 33.4sec. WRC regular Karl Kruuda was second fastest, setting a time of 1m 34.4s in a brand new Ford Fiesta R5.
Latvala said it was hard to compare the performance of the historic and modern WRC cars: “It’s a different world compared to the Polo R. In this car you have to think much more about what’s coming up and plan for the corners, acceleration and braking ahead. I can’t push at the limit as I can in the Polo.”
Asked about his objectives for the rally, Latvala said: “Well, the main thing is to enjoy my self and relax, but for sure when you put on your helmet you want to fight for victory!”
The historic rally itinerary features two stages on Friday afternoon and six more on Saturday. Stage times and more information can be found here.