WRC – Shakedown Pace Boosts Latvala At Rally Australia

September 9, 2011

WRC

FINNISH driver Jari-Matti Latvala claimed a “real confidence booster” in setting the fastest time in shakedown today for RallyAustralia, round 10 of the World Rally Championship on theNew South WalesCoffsCoast.

The Ford Fiesta RS WRC ace, yet to win in the WRC this season, stopped the clock in 1m58.9s after the 3.77-kilometre practice stage onSherwood Forest Road, 30 kilometres north of the event base inCoffsHarbour.

RallyAustralia, round 10 of the 2011 FIA WRC, starts with the floodlit Castrol Edge Super Special Stage tonight.

Latvala was 0.2s faster than Citroen DS3 WRC privateer Petter Solberg, while world championship leader Sebastien Loeb was sixth quickest in his factory Citroen.

“It’s a real confidence boost to be fastest on roads new to us all,” said Latvala. “I am happy to be back on gravel and the fast and flowing stages here are the type of roads that I like.”

Asked whether he would be able to translate his pace in shakedown to the rally proper, Latvala said: “We know from this morning the car is going to be competitive here so fighting for victory this weekend is our only aim.”

Solberg, who is chasing his second podium of the season inAustralia, said his performance in shakedown had given him a renewed sense of optimism.

“I keep up in the shakedown so that will be a big help but now we have to wait and see for the rally,” said the Norwegian.

“It’s very good roads here but you need a good balance and that is what we were working on in shakedown. We are optimistic for achieving that.”

Evgeny Novikov’s preparations suffered a setback when he crashed on his second run aboard his M-Sport Stobert Ford Fiesta.

“On the second pass in a left corner we cut too much and touched a wall and the steering arm was broken so we had to stop,” said the Russian.

“It was not possible to take the car from the shakedown so we didn’t drive more. The car is not bad so it is not a big problem for me.”

Jukka Ketomaki was the fastest Production Car World Rally Championship contender in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

RallyAustralia gets underway with the first of 26 stages at 19:15hrs local time today (Thursday).

Top 10 Shakedown times:

1. LATVALA. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:58.9

2. P. SOLBERG. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.1

3. H. SOLBERG. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 1:59.6

4. OGIER. Citroen DS3 WRC. 1:59.8

5. HIRVONEN. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:00.6

6. LOEB. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:01.0

7.WILSON. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:01.6

8. NOVIKOV. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:04.4

9. VAN MERKSTEIJN JR. Citroen DS3 WRC. 2:05.0

10. BLOCK. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 2:05.4

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