Ford duo hoping for more Rally GB success

Ford World Rally Team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg are both hoping to earn the winners’ laurels again in Britain.

Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila will defend their 2011 victory when they won by almost four minutes in a Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car, and Solberg, co-driven now by Chris Patterson, took four consecutive victories from 2002 to 2005.Fiesta RS WRCs filled eight of the top nine places in 2011, but the 2012 event will be very different from last year’s encounter. 

Traditionally the final round of the championship in November, its hallmarks are rain, fog, ice and snow.  However, a September date promises more benign conditions and this could be the fastest Rally GB ever - something Latvala thinks will play into his hands.

“I enjoy driving on narrow, fast, flowing roads like these and it’s one of my favourite rallies,” said 27-year-old Latvala. 

“We’re used to winter conditions here so if it stays dry then the characteristics of the event will change considerably.  In dry weather the roads will give good grip and speeds will be high. 

“One of the big decisions will be tyre selection.  In the dry we should use Michelin’s hard compound rubber, especially as the surface in some forests is abrasive.  But the allocation we’re allowed means we can’t do that for the entire rally, so it will be tricky to know when to use soft tyres and when to use harder rubber.

 “In winter it’s important to identify muddy sections.  If it’s drier it’s not necessary to pay so much attention to the surface, but I’ll need to concentrate harder in corners because the car will carry more speed. 

"Logs are another hazard in Britain.  They are often piled high on the side of the road and clipping one can break the suspension and end the day immediately."

Solberg admitted that Rally GB was one of his pre-season targets for a strong result. 

“I’ve been very successful in Britain during my career and it’s a rally that suits me," he said.

"I enjoy the forest tracks because they’re fast and a good challenge.  You have to use the whole road – and sometimes a bit more – to keep the speed high.

“Accurate pace notes are important because overhanging branches often prevent a clear view of the road.  The earlier date this year will obviously make a difference and I expect the roads will be faster and rougher in places.  That could also make it tougher for the tyres.

“The team has worked hard since the last gravel round in Finland to unlock more speed.  We were surprised at the pace of that rally and our priority is to ensure we are up there and challenging for a win."