Latvala to help Hirvonen’s title push
But will concentrate first on the manufacturers’ title
Jari-Matti Latvala says he will do all he can to help Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen land his first World Rally Championship crown this season.
Finn Hirvonen trails multiple title-winner Sebastien Loeb by 17 points in the race for the coveted accolade ahead of the next round of the global adventure series, the dauntingly fast Neste Oil Rally Finland from 28-30 July.
Latvala is 70 points adrift of Loeb following a frustrating sequence of results and seemingly out of contention for the title with six events remaining, including three predominantly on asphalt, his least-favoured surface. Meanwhile Ford is 55 points behind Citroen in the manufacturers’ table.
As a result the 26-year-old will try to support countryman Hirvonen’s title bid by taking points off Loeb and his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier who are first and third in the championship standings respectively.
“The drivers’ championship is too far away so I will concentrate on the manufacturers,” Latvala told Motorsport News in the United Kingdom. “Of course, if I can help Mikko I will, but I should do what the team is asking me to do. I will still try to fight for some victories.”
Despite Latvala’s offer of support to Hirvonen, Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team head Malcolm Wilson says he won’t be making Hirvonen the squad’s number one driver just yet. “For the time being the drivers’ position [as equal number ones] stays as it is,” said Wilson.
Ford has won in Finland on the last two occasions with Hirvonen taking victory in 2009 before Latvala clinched first place last season following Hirvonen’s huge crash while leading.
The Finns have been taking part in an asphalt test in France this week to prepare for ADAC Rallye Deutschland in August, the first sealed-surface event of the campaign.
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