Jari-Matti Latvala reckons Rally Sweden win key to WRC title bid
|Sunday, February 9th 2014, 16:02 GMT|
Jari-Matti Latvala reckons securing victory on Rally Sweden was key to his chances of putting together a World Rally Championship title bid.
Latvala drove a faultless rally to clinch the win - his second for Volkswagen and third in Sweden - and leapfrog team-mate and 2013 WRC champion Sebastien Ogier in the process.
Ogier could only finish sixth after dropping out of the rally lead with an uncharacteristic error, and Latvala added another two more points to his tally with second on the powerstage to go five points clear at the top.
He admitted to putting more pressure on himself to deliver in the wake of his team-mate's season-opening Monte Carlo win, and believes reacting in Sweden was crucial to his chances of challenging for a maiden WRC win.
"I have tried be more focused and concentrate [more]," said Latvala, who finished fifth on the season-opening Monte but salvaged an extra three points there with victory on the powerstage.
"I have had difficult starts to the season so many times and not done so good starts. And when you are at a low point in the start, it's so difficult - halfway in the year you have already lost your championship.
"I really wanted to concentrate to get a good start for the season - I got fifth on the Monte and I knew it would be important to get a good position over here to keep the championship interesting."
The Finn insists that, with the rally all but won heading into the final stage, the risk of pushing too hard outweighed the reward of an extra point for the fastest time.
While Citroen's Mads Ostberg, third in the standings, added a three-point powerstage bonus to his third place on the rally, Latvala says his new approach was evident in putting the bigger picture first.
"Basically our plan was to go out there and drive as fast as we had done but we were not trying to score the points," he added.
"If it comes with normal driving as we had been doing on the day then it's great but we don't add any extra.
"There was maybe a little chance to push but then always the risk is going higher. We were happy with that and Mads did a very good stage so I'm very happy with those points.
"I really wanted to say thank you to Christoph [Treier], my mental trainer. He has helped me a lot. This was something the team was asking and I was considering for me that it could be good."