Latvala: Driving Rally Finland will help me as team principal

Understanding how the hybrid Rally1 works will benefit Jari-Matti Latvala in his day job


It’s something which hasn’t sat comfortably with Jari-Matti Latvala since the top of the hybrid era. He doesn’t know about them.

OK, of course he knows about them. But he doesn’t know about them. He’s driven one around a car park in Japan, but he doesn’t know what hybrid deployment feels like when you light a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 up out of a slow corner.

Such things are not normally the concern of the team principal, but not every TP is the world’s most experienced World Rally Championship driver and the only man on planet earth to have started more than 200 rounds of the series.

Such qualifications make you more inquisitive than most when it comes to how a different engine map affects the car’s regen under braking.

Talking to the Finn about the predicament, his brow furrows. As much as knowledge is power for J-ML, it’s also fever and fulfilment.

The WRC has evolved through insane tech: World Rally Cars with trick transmission, fully active everything and most recently, eye-watering levels of downforce from the biggest of big aero cars. And he’s seen it all. Until batteries, motors and more electric than ever was introduced at the sport’s highest level.

“Sometimes,” Latvala told DirtFish, “the boys are talking about these things that you talk about, the regen or the deployment and I don’t know what they are talking about. I don’t understand these things.

“This is a very good point, this is something that makes [Rally] Finland very important – it will help me understand more the car and how everything is working. It’s a golden opportunity for me to communicate with the drivers – this is something that will make my life easier.

“In the last 20 years, I’ve driven everything in World Rally Cars and always been able to talk in the debrief. Now, it’s different.”

So, what shape will the learning take?

After a one-day test, how will he learn more through three full days of competition?


“I will change the setup for the car,” he said. “If I can, I want to start with Kalle’s [Rovanperä] setup. Then on the next day I take the settings from Elfyn [Evans] and then look at what Taka [Katsuta] is driving.

“The most important thing is for me to understand how the boys are driving the car and how they’re working with the hybrid – when the boost is being used and how much they need to load the brakes to regenerate the power.

“It’s all of these things. Right now I have the questions.”

And soon enough he’ll have the answers.