Latvala feels ready for title fight

Jari-Matti Latvala says he is ready to challenge for next year's World Rally Championship after spending this season as Ford's number two driver

Latvala feels ready for title fight

The Finn, who consistently out-scored his senior team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, enjoyed his most successful season to date, finishing second in the end of year standings after scoring two victories.

Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson declined to comment on the precise nature of the tactics he would deploy for his team in 2011, but it is reckoned Latvala and Hirvonen will share joint number one status.

"It's been good for me this year," said Latvala. "The way we have driven [as number two] has helped me to find the consistency. I have definitely improved as a driver, but I'm not about to say that I'm ready to be world champion. I feel I am ready to fight for the championship, though."

Asked whether he thought number one status was the best way forward for him and Hirvonen next season, Latvala replied: "We have to remember the manufacturers' championship, this is something which is very important to the team.

"Maybe I have developed this year and maybe it's not necessary [for me to be number two], that's for Malcolm to decide. This has been a tough year for Ford and it's nice to get through it and start to focus on next season, which is going to be really exciting with the Fiesta."

Wilson said: "I haven't decided what we will do yet [next season], but it's clear that our strategy for this year has worked well for Jari [-Matti Latvala]."

Latvala added that he had no doubt Hirvonen would return to the kind of form which took him to just one point of winning the title in 2009.

"Mikko will definitely be back," said Latvala. "It was tough for him this season and I know what that's like, I've been there. His accident in Finland was very big, but he has been setting good times on most rallies. He will be back."

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