Jari-Matti Latvala believes that sessions with a sports psychologist helped get his 2014 world championship campaign off to a career-best start.
The Finn took his third Rally Sweden victory on Saturday, and he now heads the WRC drivers’ standings, for the first time, on 40 points, five ahead of defending champion Sebastien Ogier, who dropped out of contention in Sweden when he drove into a snow bank on Thursday.
After the finish podium, Latvala revealed that sessions with trainer Christoph Treier, who used to work with Marcus Gronholm, helped him remain focused – especially early in the rally when the pressure of trying to catch Ogier showed.
“He has helped me a lot. This was something the team was asking and I was considering for me that it could be good,” Latvala explained. “So thanks for the team for thinking about this. Mental training, I believe – on every sport – you can do work.”
Latvala believes his early success will give him a mental boost ahead of the remaining 11 rounds of the championship, which resumes next month in Mexico.
“I have had difficult starts to the season so many times and not done so good starts. And when you are at a low point in the start, it’s so difficult – halfway in the year you have already lost your Championship.
"I really wanted to concentrate to get a good start for the season – I got fifth in the Monte and I knew it would be important to get a good position over here to keep the Championship interesting,” he added.