WRC wunderkind Kalle Rovanperä is hoping fellow Finn Jari-Matti Latvala can find a way to compete regularly again this season.
Latvala lost his Toyota Yaris seat to the 19-year-old but Rovanperä says he’s sad to see Latvala, the WRC’s most experienced campaigner with 208 starts, missing the season opener for the first time since 2005.
Rovanperä said: “It’s a bit sad for me that Jari-Matti is not going to be there for the full season.
“I really like him as a driver and as a person. He’s one of the nicest guys I know and he’s really a proper driver. It’s sad he didn’t have such a good season in the past years because he is one of the fastest in the WRC.
“I guess sometimes rallying is like this. I really hope he can get some rallies in the future. I know he wants to drive, so it would be great if he can make this happen. He loves this sport so much and when you talk to him, you know he’s like the real proper rally guy.”
After missing Rallye Monte-Carlo (23 - 26 January), Latvala will drive a privately-entered Yaris at round two in Sweden and on his home round in Finland in August.
“I can confirm those two rallies,” Latvala said late last year. “But I am working to get some sponsorship to add in Sardinia, Portugal and Rally GB as well. If I was to say the dream, that would include New Zealand as well, but that one is too expensive.”
Latvala still has his eye on a full-time return next season. “I am 34 now and I still think I have another good couple of years in me,” he said.