Latvala: I need to do better

A typically honest Jari-Matti Latvala feels he could - and should - be doing more to help his Toyota team

Jari-Matti Latvala

Jari-Matti Latvala has always been his own harshest critic. As a driver, he would immediately hold his hands up when he made a mistake. And now, as a team principal, he’s ready to put his hand up once again.

The Finn feels he has to shoulder some of the blame for the struggles his drivers are facing in 2024.

This is not a position he is used to. Since he took the reins at Toyota back in 2021, Latvala has known nothing but victory. Between 2021 and 2023 there were 25 rally wins and a run of three consecutive drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.

It is an incredible achievement, but Latvala now leads a very different Toyota team than the one he inherited three-and-a-half years ago. Back then he had Sébastien Ogier – then a seven-time world champion – at the helm, a solid points-scorer in Elfyn Evans, and a nailed-on future world champion in Kalle Rovanperä.

Seastien Ogier

Now his two champions have gone part-time, and his full-time drivers Evans and Takamoto Katsuta are not firing on all cylinders. This has prompted some self-reflection for Latvala.

“The situation is for sure not the best,” he told DirtFish, “Yeah, I can say that I need to do a better job. I’m not managing necessarily the drivers the best at the moment.”

Latvala is clearly hurting. Thierry Neuville is 18 points clear in the drivers’ championship and Hyundai holds a 13-point advantage in the makes’ race. That is not where the Toyota boss wants to be, but it is clear he knows what his role is.

“I need to raise a hand and then try to see what I can do with them, to get the better performance out of the drivers,” he said. “We can see the car is good. But at the moment, the driver performances haven’t been the best.”