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WRC Rally Estonia

Unusual Goodwood Rally1 outing beneficial for Latvala’s WRC comeback 

Jari-Matti Latvala says a first taste of the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on a rally stage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed will help his World Rally Championship comeback plans.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The 18-time WRC rally winner and Toyota WRC boss is set to make a competitive return to rallying’s top flight with an outing at Rally Finland in a 2023 specification GR Yaris Rally1 next month. 

While Latvala is scheduled to conduct a pre-event test day in the car before the rally, the Finn logged some valuable seat time at this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, which included runs through the event’s 2.5km Forest rally stage.

Latvala was also joined in the car by former team-mate and 2003 world champion Petter Solberg as part of a special Autosport feature that will be published next month.

“Actually, it was good practice," Latvala told Autosport. 

“It helps a lot that I managed to get some sort of idea of the car before the rally. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend as I can drive the car more. 

“It will help to get the feeling of the car before the test so that when I come to the test I don't lose time to just understanding the car.”

After retiring from full-time driving in the WRC at the end of 2019, the 38-year-old is new to championship’s hybrid cars that were introduced last year.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg

Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg

Photo by: Jari-Matti Latvala

Reflecting on driving the car, Latvala admitted he was impressed and surprised by the effectiveness of the hybrid boost. 

“I must say the boost, I’m really impressed. When the kick comes it feels like an old Audi Quattro when the turbo boost comes in," he added. 

“This car is so easy to drive and you don’t feel the bumps like you used to. The suspension is at a really high level compared to WRC cars 20 years ago.

“I have never really driven it on a stage and to go with Petter I knew I couldn’t show that I was very slow and at the same time you can’t crash, so you have to find a way to adapt to the car quickly.  

“It was my first time with the hybrid really on and it was exciting and Petter was also really excited about it. His passion for rallying and motorsport is amazing.” 

All three WRC teams are in attendance at Goodwood this week to celebrate 50 years of the WRC, with eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans joining the Toyota ranks.

Thierry Neuville and Esapekka Lappi are set to pilot the Hyundai i20 Rally1 on Goodwood’s famous hillclimb and the rally stage, while M-Sport’s Ford Puma will be driven by Ott Tanak and team boss Malcolm Wilson.

Lead picture by Gary Hawkins 

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