Tue 12 Mar 2024

Finnish legend Latvala welcomes Ouninpohja return

Three-time Rally Finland winner Jari-Mati Latvala is excited by the prospect of Ouninpohja returning to the itinerary of his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship this year.

Latvala secured a hat-trick of victories on the legendary gravel fixture in 2010, 2014 and 2015. Although his role as team principal at Toyota Gazoo Racing has necessitated the 38-year-old to step back from full-time competition, he made a one-off appearance in 2023 when piloting a GR Yaris Rally1 to fifth on home soil.

Last week it was revealed that the famous Ouninpohja stage will feature on the itinerary of this year’s Secto Rally Finland, utilising the full 33-kilometre format that was previously used seven years ago.

Latvala can probably reel off more Rally Finland facts than most WRC drivers put together. After all – he’s a rally fan first and foremost. He’s driven Ouninpohja plenty of times – so what does he think?

“It’s great to see Ouninpohja coming back,” Latvala told WRC.com. “I would say that Ouninpohja, along with Myhinpää, are two of the most iconic and most demanding stages in Rally Finland. They are both on the route, and I think it’s been a long, long time since that has happened.

“I am very much looking forward to welcoming Ouninpohja to the route. It is a challenge, but it’s a nice challenge for the drivers, and I understand that for the very first time they will use a virtual chicane. It will be very interesting to see how that will work, and I think it will work well because the road condition in that place will be more equal for everybody – nobody is pushing the bales out into the road.”

While Latvala may be tempted by an outing in the Finnish forests in the not too distant future, his focus currently is on getting the Toyota team back to winning ways after it missed out on victories at this year’s opening pair of rallies in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.

Safari Rally Kenya (28 – 31 March) – an event the team has won for three years running – presents the perfect opportunity.

“I think in Kenya that patience will be very important,” he said. “Especially with the weather conditions, if it gets difficult we need to remember that being the fastest is not always the way – being the smartest is, for me, the key. Anyway, I would very much like to see Toyota winning.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM