Latvala chooses first on road in GB
Ogier slots in behind team-mate Latvala in Wales Rally GB start order
Jari-Matti Latvala has chosen to start first on the road in tonight’s opening leg of Wales Rally GB after Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier declined the opportunity of leading the field away from the Conwy start.
After winning qualifying this morning in his Polo R by seven hundredths of a second, Ogier was first to select his start position. Cautious of being first to tackle the wet and slimy roads in the dark tonight, the Frenchman opted for second in the order.
“I know that if I choose to be first then everyone will follow. So I will take the second one just to see what happens,” said a smiling Ogier.
Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov, second and third in qualifying, followed Ogier’s strategy and selected third and fourth in the order. However, Latvala, wary of being too low in deteriorating road conditions, took the plunge and selected first.
“At this time of the year you normally find the roads are quite wet and damp, and then there is a thin layer of gravel on top. By being first in the start order you normally get the benefit from that, and then the mud starts to build up on the road,” Latvala told wrc.com.
“The optimum place for me to see the braking lines would have been second or third on the road. Going fifth would have been too low, so I would rather be first. I feel more comfortable to be opening the road than being further back,” he added.
The remaining drivers each chose the highest start position available to them.
Drivers used numbered rugby balls to select their position. They autographed them afterwards and they will be auctioned for the Gareth Roberts Fund.
The fund was set up in memory of Roberts, who died in a crash at the Targa Florio Rally in Sicily in June 2012 while co-driving for Craig Breen. It aims to help competitors injured in rally accidents and to set up an academy to help talented young co-drivers reach the top of the sport.
The full start order for the leading drivers is:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala
2. Sebastien Ogier
3. Thierry Neuville
4. Evgeny Novikov
5. Mads Ostberg
6. Mikko Hirvonen
7. Robert Kubica
8. Dani Sordo
9. Andreas Mikkelsen
10 Martin Prokop
11 Michal Solowow
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