Jari-Matti Latvala targets gold in Greece…
…yet I bet he is actually going to be a bit more careful about his chances and also the outright pace he is willing to apply from the word go in Greece. Although he claims the recovery is tight yet successful, Greek stages are known to be pretty rough, so pushing too hard might quickly prove to be the wrong thing to do.
And of course, Ford desperately needs points in manufacturers standings just like Jari-Matti could use a point of two on his account if he is to restart his hopes of finishing 2012 at the top.
Latvala has good experience of the Acropolis, dating back to 2003 when as an 18-year-old he finished 10th on his World Rally Car debut. He has seven starts to his name, with a best finish of third in 2009. The 27-year-old Finn covered 440km on his return to the wheel in testing and reported no discomfort from his collarbone injury.
“I was surprised how good it felt,” he said. “I wore padding under the HANS device to spread the pressure across my chest and shoulders and it worked perfectly. We planned a shorter first day, but with no problems I drove a full schedule on the second day on a rougher road, and I felt no pain in my collarbone or shoulder. My recovery schedule has been tight but I’m confident I won’t have to worry about the injury.
“We worked on the suspension and made a step forward, with the car feeling better in bedrock conditions. After so long out of the car I felt so happy and relieved that my skills were still there!
“It will be a hard rally and Saturday’s leg will be especially difficult. It’s longer than last year, with two passes over a new 21km stage, and it will be tough for the tyres in the heat. It will be important to manage the tyres well because tyre wear could be the most important aspect. You can drive at 95 per cent in those conditions, but to drive at 100 per cent all the time would be risky,” added Latvala.