Jari-Matti Latvala says he has no fears about being able to complete the gruelling Acropolis Rally route on his first start in the WRC since he broke his left collarbone in a skiing accident.
Latvala suffered the injury while cross-country skiing as part of his rigorous training programme in his native Finland in early April. He was forced to miss Rally Argentina as a result. But after covering 440 kilometres during a recent test, the 27-year-old says he’s ready to take on world rallying’s best in Greece this week.
“I was surprised how good it felt,” he said. “I wore padding under the HANS device to spread the pressure across my chest and shoulders and it worked perfectly. We planned a shorter first day, but with no problems I drove a full schedule on the second day on a rougher road, and I felt no pain in my collarbone or shoulder. My recovery schedule has been tight but I’m confident I won’t have to worry about the injury.”
Latvala, who currently languishes in sixth position in the WRC drivers’ standings, expects Saturday’s itinerary will be particularly tough but says he’s ready for action.
“It will be a hard rally and Saturday’s leg will be especially difficult,” he said. “It’s longer than last year, with two passes over a new 21-kilometre stage, and it will be tough for the tyres in the heat. We worked on the suspension [in the test] and made a step forward, with the car feeling better in bedrock conditions. After so long out of the car I felt so happy and relieved that my skills were still there.”