European

Childhood dream comes true for Latvala

by Richard Rodgers / 18th July 2013

One of Jari-Matti Latvala’s childhood dreams will come true tomorrow when he rallies an Audi Quattro.

Volkswagen’s factory WRC driver has hired a Group 4-specificiation Quattro, built in 1982, from its owner in Italy for the historic section of Rally Estonia, which features nine mainly high-speed gravel stages from tomorrow (Friday).

“I am excited about it because it’s my passion and since I’ve been a young boy I’ve always been fascinated by Audis,” Latvala said. “My father has been driving Group A Audis and in 1989 an ex-Armin Schwarz Audi 200 Quattro came to us. Now I am driving with Volkswagen and, as Audi is in the same group, this gives me the opportunity at a time when there is nothing in the team’s schedule.”

Latvala completed an initial test on Tarmac prior to Rally Italia Sardegna last month and said he was instantly a fan of the German machine. “But when you come to the braking and turn into the corner and push the throttle [for the exit] nothing is happening so much. But then on the other hand you have the power steering that you didn’t have on the Ford Escort I had last year and that makes it a bit easier.”

With regular co-driver Miikka Anttila unavailable, Latvala has recruited regular stand-in Asko Sairanen to chase back-to-back wins in the Baltic. “I will go with my other co-driver driver because Miikka wants to stay with his family in the summer,” Latvala explained. “This is my hobby and my other co-driver also likes this historic stuff.”

Asked if his outing on Rally Estonia could boost his chances on the upcoming Rally Finland – both events use high-speed gravel stages littered with blind crests – Latvala said: “What is good is you drive fast roads and you are practicing pace notes. There is also not so big break between the rallies.”

Latvala has made a strong start to his temporary career as an Audi Quattro driver by setting the fastest time in the Qualifying Stage (pictured).

Photo: Timo Anis