Jari-Matti Latvala says that despite a lack of pre-event testing, he is increasingly confident at the wheel of Toyota's all-new Yaris world rally car and will concentrate on making it 'faster and faster' as the year progresses.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the first event for Toyota's new WRC team and its 2017-spec Yaris, and a fresh challenge for Latvala who joined the squad in mid-December following Volkswagen's WRC exit.
Having secured a seat with Toyota at the eleventh hour, and squeezing in a limited amount of testing, Latvala said that he was eager to get going again after a stressful couple of months.
"It’s a very nice feeling to finally get the season underway now after so much hard work and anticipation," he explained.
"When Volkswagen stopped, for one month I didn’t know what to do. I was even thinking of doing the Finnish Championship to keep the rhythm! I was very happy to get the Toyota seat and the feeling has been getting better and better the more testing I’ve been doing. It was tricky in shakedown, but I feel more confident with the car now."
Latvala was fourth-quickest at shakedown, but played down expectations this week, acknowledging that the amount of pre-season testing was far less than he was used to at Volkswagen.
"I managed to do 10 or 12 days of testing, so it was quite a change. The car has been running less than one year. The first test was March or April and that’s a very short period. When Volkswagen came the test period was a lot longer," he explained.
"This year for me is more to work on the car and make it faster and faster – at the end of the year, we could fight for the podiums or victories. But the first six months is to work with the car. The target is more 2018, now we work to get it on the level with the other cars."
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