The factory Ford pilot won the right to select his starting position for the two runs over the 28.14-kilometre Terranova test later today after going quickest during this morning’s Qualifying Stage in his Fiesta RS WRC.
Although the Finn accepts he will drop time cleaning the road of the loose surface gravel on the first pass, he believes the lack of breeze in the hills south of Olbia where the stage is based, coupled with the fact he will enjoy more daylight compared to his rivals when he tackles the test at 18:16hrs local time, will hand him an advantage over his fellow FIA World Rally Championship aces.
“My decision was taken based on what I know from this rally from before,” said Latvala, who won in Sardinia in 2009 while the chasing pack struggled to see where they were going in huge plumes of dust. “I know I will lose time on the first pass [cleaning the road] but on the second pass you have to think about the [fading] light and the dust.”
Behind Latvala, Ott Tanak has chosen to run second on the road in his M-Sport Fiesta with Latvala’s factory Ford team-mate Petter Solberg next up. Evgeny Novikov goes fourth in a second M-Sport Fiesta with Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen fifth and sixth for Citroen respectively.
Mads Ostberg, Chris Atkinson, Martin Prokop, Thierry Neuville, Paulo Nobre and Luca Pedersoli complete the World Rally Car running order.
Stage one, Terranova, goes live at 16:13hrs local time. Following a remote service in Monti, the second pass, which counts as stage two, will get underway at 18:16hrs. Crews will tackle Friday’s stages in reverse order.