Latvala to compete against father in local Finnish rally

New Toyota WRC boss partners ex-team-mate Juho Hänninen in family-run Celica GT-4 this weekend

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For the first time in 17 years Latvalas father and son will go head-to-head in identical machinery at Saturday’s Mesikämmen Ralli in Finland.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti and his 64-year-old father Jari will drive a pair of Toyota Celica GT-4s prepared by the Latvala family team in Töysä – just 10 miles from the weekend stages in Ähtäri. The younger of the two Latvalas leads the Finnish Historic Rally Trophy field away with his father directly behind him on the road for the winter event.

Latvala told DirtFish: “We drove against each other in 2004 in Joensuu at a Finnish Championship event (SM-Itäralli) with Corolla WRC. I had 1999 car and my father was in a 1998. This weekend the Celicas are on the same level.”

Latvala Jr beat his father by 26 seconds last time out.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Jari-Matti continued. “The route is not so long, but the roads are in really nice condition.”

As he was through last season, Latvala Jr will continue to be co-driven by Toyota Gazoo Racing test driver Juho Hänninen.

Looking beyond this weekend and on towards the end of the month, Latvala Jr is similarly excited by Arctic Rally Finland.

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“I’m super delighted we can have two WRC rounds in Finland,” he said.

“I remember 20 years ago when they were speaking and saying it will be so fantastic to have a WRC round where it’s guaranteed snow – and, of course, we’ve always been thinking about this opportunity in Lapland.

“We thought it would never happen, but now this opportunity has opened, and the option was able to be taken and we can have this event in Lapland in the wintertime plus the summer rally!”

Typically, Latvala has a story about his one and only start in the Arctic Circle.

“In 2006,” he said, “I was driving in the Arctic Rally [in a Toyota Corolla WRC]. I have good and bad memories. Typical on the Arctic Rally are these long, long, long corners. I couldn’t drive it fast enough in them to begin with, I didn’t have the confidence enough, until I finally got the rhythm. Then I went off [in] the snowbank. I was shoveling the car out for one hour!

“This is typical in Lapland, you can have a lot of snow in the snowbank and it’s no harm for a car, but it’s not coming back – it’s the nature of the rally.”

Words:David Evans