Rally Sweden is the beginning of a new chapter for Jari-Matti Latvala – fielding his own Toyota Yaris after dropping out of the World Rally Championship factory team ranks.
He talks to DirtFish’s Colin Clark about his change of situation, why it’s an “investment” in his future career – and having fellow driver Juho Hanninen switching roles to become his co-driver.
Click on the video above for the full interview.
An unusual start to the year for Latvala
The last time Latvala sat out a round of the World Rally Championship, he wasn’t too concerned about watching the action. He was in too much pain.
Last month he was in a different kind of pain when the Monte Carlo Rally began without him.
In 2012 Latvala skipped Rally Argentina after breaking his collarbone while skiing. In January he skipped Monte Carlo because he lost his seat in the Toyota works team.
Back for round two – Rally Sweden – Latvala talked about missing a WRC round for the first time in almost eight years.
“I watched the first two stages on the Thursday night,” Latvala told DirtFish, “but then I must say, when it came to the first full day, I couldn’t watch.
“I was missing the rally so much. I wanted to be in Monte Carlo, but it wasn’t possible. I wanted to be in the middle of it, but I couldn’t and I was missing this big WRC family.
“I thought about going to Monte Carlo for the rally, but I knew it would be too difficult.
“It would have been nice to catch up with people again, but to be in the service park when the guys are looking to the mountains and thinking to the tire choices, then it would have been too hard to be there.”
Latvala returns to the WRC in a privately entered Toyota Yaris WRC this week at the start of a part-time 2020 program.
“It’s very, very good to be back,” he said. “I’m definitely happy for this.”
Eighth fastest in shakedown, Latvala declared he was satisfied with his start.
“I was thinking to go back to the stage and have one more run in the good conditions with the new tires,” he said. “I was thinking: ‘Should I go? Maybe I will go…’ But it’s shakedown and I want to focus instead to the rally itself.”