For me it’s quite clear who gets the coveted “drive of the rally” title, although as MaxRally suggests, there are several very strong candidates among the Rally Sweden competitors.
Jari-Matti Latvala was high quality World Rally Championship material this weekend. No mistakes, no inconsistencies, no hesitation – just calm and focused racer behind the wheel. One could say Latvala did a Loebtastic job in Nordic snow. And that gets him top spot in my book, but by the slightest of margins. Why? Well mostly because he is no stranger to World Rally Championship and to Ford, he knows the team, he knows events and he most certainly should know how to do his job regardless of the pressure. In Sweden, Jari-Matti delivered on all fronts, but Monaco failure is still fresh in everyone’s memory and brings back bitter flashbacks of similar errors from the past. In short, this is the year in which Latvala has all the cards layed out for him, even the number one status, and Sweden performance simply must become his routine on other rallies or he will simply not make it.
Meanwhile, MaxRally selected another excellent driver, Evgeny Novikov. Very good choice and splendid performance by the promising Russian driver saw him repeat his top 5 finish from Monte Carlo. Not long ago Novikov was famous for his violent crashes and crazy driving and his reputation was that of a fast, but also unreliable driver. However, Novikov we see today is a totally different deal – developed driver and very capable strategic player, able to handle the pressure, preserve tires, observe weather and adapt. If two opening rallies of 2012 season are anything to go by, Novikov might be one of the most pleasant surprises this year.
You can check MaxRally’s review of best drives of 2012 Rally Sweden by clicking here.