While we were away at the motor show in Sydney one of the WRC’s worst kept secrets was confirmed. That is, Volkswagen officially announced the signing of current Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala.
The 27-year-old Finn, winner of seven WRC events, will join 28-year-old Frenchman Sébastien Ogier. During 2012 Ogier has been impressive in the Skoda Fabia S2000, while the team’s Polo R WRC continues its development. Volkswagen has done well to secure what will be one of the WRC’s strongest driver pairings in 2013.
Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito is certainly pretty happy with himself: “The fact that another top-flight driver believes in our success and is switching to our team gives each member of our team an additional motivation boost. In Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala we’ve got an excellent driver line-up for the debut of the Polo R WRC in the 2013 World Rally Championship.”
Meanwhile, Latvala is already towing the party line: “I’m very happy to be driving the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship in future. The determined approach of the Volkswagen team convinced me to accept this challenge,”
Volkswagen signs Jari-Matti Latvala for its World Championship campaign
Wolfsburg (17 October 2012). Volkswagen has signed another top-flight driver for it’s FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign. Jari-Matti Latvala together with co-driver Miikka Anttila will be driving a Polo R WRC starting at Rallye Monte Carlo (15–20 January 2013).
Latvala is regarded as one of the world’s quickest and most experienced rally drivers. The 27-year-old Finn has achieved victories at seven WRC rounds, finished the 2010 season as the runner-up in the world championship and, since his first rally success in 2008, maintained the record as the youngest rally winner in WRC history.
“We’re proud and highly pleased to have gained Jari-Matti Latvala for our World Rally Championship project. He’s one of the most distinguished WRC drivers in the field and has experience, aggressiveness and exceptional speed. I’ve known Jari-Matti since his early days in rallying and have been watching his development very closely. He’s a true reinforcement for our team,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “The fact that another top-flight driver believes in our success and is switching to our team gives each member of our team an additional motivation boost. In Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala we’ve got an excellent driver line-up for the debut of the Polo R WRC in the 2013 World Rally Championship.”
Latvala is joining Volkswagen after five years with the Ford factory team. “I’m very happy to be driving the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship in future. The determined approach of the Volkswagen team convinced me to accept this challenge,” says Latvala. “The time at Ford was very valuable for me and I would like to thank everyone who supported me there in the past years – it wasn’t easy for me to say goodbye. At the same time, I see the change as a personal new beginning. I’ve taken this decision in order to make another step towards reaching my big aim: the world champion’s title with Volkswagen.”
First WRC rally at 17, first victory at 22, WRC runner-up at 25 years of age
Latvala practically inherited his talent for rallying. His father drove rallies in Finland himself and supported his son very early on. At just eight years of age, Jari-Matti was sitting at the wheel of a car and a little later he was practising his first drifts on a frozen lake. At the age of 17, in 2002, Latvala entered the World Rally Championship stage at Rally Great Britain. Before moving up to the Ford factory team in 2008 Latvala, who hails from Töysä in the west of Finland, contested 52 WRC rounds in cars of different makes and power categories. At Rally Sweden in 2008, he celebrated his first WRC victory and added six further wins to his tally until today, including the classic events in Finland (2010) and Great Britain (2011/2012). In the 2010 season, he was the runner-up in the final standings; in 2011, he took more stage wins than any other driver and finished the world championship in fourth place. To date, Latvala has participated in 115 WRC rounds, been on podium 31 times and scored 612 WRC points. He has been relying on the navigation instructions of his 40-year-old compatriot Miikka Anttila since 2003.