Jari-Matti Latvala’s position – gamble or playing it safe?

It’s all about the weather in New Zealand, and judging from the starting positions selected by nominated drivers, either Jari-Matti Latvala knows more than the others, or vice versa.

Based on the results of the qualifying stage, leading crews are allowed to select starting positions for day 1 of the rally and depending on the event and the weather it can be beneficial to either start high up the order or as low as possible.

Latvala was fastest in the qualifying stage and opted for the bottom of the starting list, unlike the remaining three works drivers of both Citro├źn and Ford. Finnish ace reckons he will be able to take advantage of starting well down the order when crews make their way through stages of day 1. Latvala is certain surface is loose enough and will slow down frontrunners, but does that also mean Latvala is putting himself under pressure to perform flawlessly from the word go in New Zealand?

We’re definetly in for a classic drama once rally gets under way in little over 3 hours from now. However, as we saw this year, starting order can be close to irrelevant, but rally can also be in for a different kind of thriller if weather decides to come into play.

Big part of potential day 1 drama in New Zealand comes from decisions of remaining three works crews – Mikko Hirvonen picked spot number one, followed by Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb.

Day one consists of eight special stages – two runs over four tests, with three of those exceeding 29 kilometers in length, so it will be a long day of rejoicing or suffering if starting positions prove to be crucial.

Starting order for day 1:

1. Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen DS3 WRC)
2. Petter Solberg (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
3. Sebastien Loeb (Citroen DS3 WRC)
4. Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
5. Dani Sordo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC)
6. Jari Ketomaa (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
7. Evgeny Novikov (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
8. Manfred Stohl (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
9. Ken Block (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)
10. Armindo Araujo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC)
11. Paulo Nobre (MINI John Cooper Works WRC)
12. Thierry Neuville (Citroen DS3 WRC)
13. Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)