Latvala reveals plans for his newly rebuilt Celica

The WRC’s most experienced driver is preparing for a return to championship rallying

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Sliding down the Ritola stage on his roof, it was hard to see the positives. But this is Jari-Matti Latvala – he always sees the upside.

Back on its wheels, Latvala put the bonnet back where it was supposed to be and started thinking. That Tuuri Ralli crash was the start of something bigger. It was the nudge needed for the world’s most experienced World Rally Championship campaigner to begin his pursuit of another FIA title.

Latvala will embark on an FIA European Historic Rally Championship campaign next season. Or maybe the year after.

“We are waiting to find out what will be the regulations,” the 18-time world rally winner told DirtFish. “We expect the next set of rules to allow cars up to 1996, but we don’t know if they come in 2025 or 2026 yet.

“After Tuuri, we worked more on a completely new car for the championship. This is ready, but I won’t drive it this year – we’re keep it for 2025. Crashing the white one was not so bad because we now we’ll do more work on it. Originally this was a Group N chassis, so it’s a bit heavier. We were building it to Group A, so now we’ve taken the roof off and we will change the roll cage and do a lot more work for it.

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Latvala is waiting for an update to the FIA historic rally regulations before he launches a European title bid in his Celica ST185

“I’ll save this one for gravel rallies this year and running a bit lighter, we should be more competitive.”

Latvala’s 13th and final full-time WRC campaign came in 2019 – but he’s ready to return to championship chasing.

“Obviously, the focus is always to Toyota Gazoo Racing and our WRC team,” said Latvala, “but you remember when Akio [Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation chairman] first talked to me about doing this job of team principal – I told him that I wanted to keep driving. We agreed on this. I have done some events, but I’ve always wanted to do more.”

Latvala has won Finland’s EHRC round – the Lahti Historic Rally – seven times cars as varied as the Ford Escort RS1800, Audi quattro and, most recently, the Celica GT-4.