Jari-Matti Latvala Returns To WRC Competition
Earlier this week the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team announced team principal Jari-Matti Latvala will return to WRC competition at Rally Finland.
Latvala Returns To WRC Competition
Toyota Gazoo Racing Team principal and 18-time WRC event winner Jari-Matti Latvala is returning to WRC competition at this year’s Secto Rally Finland. Latvala will drive the Toyota Yaris Rally1 Hybrid that is usually driven by his former teammate Sebastien Ogier at the event. He will join the usual Toyota crew consisting of Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans, and Takamoto Katsuta. Latvala has won Rally Finland three times throughout his career, including back-to-back wins in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Latvala’s WRC Career
Jari-Matti Latvala would make his WRC debut in the 2002 Season at Rally GB. Placing 17th overall, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI. 2003 would see Latvala compete in four rallies, in Greece, Germany, Finland, and Great Britain. Latvala would drive a Ford Focus RS WRC 03 during the season. His highest finish would be 10th in Greece, Great Britain. The 2004 and 2005 seasons would see Latvala jump around between Junior WRC and other WRC level competition.
With M-Sport Ford
During the 2006 season, Latvala would race select events with the Ford M-Sport World Rally team and finish 13th in the championship. 2007 would be Latvala’s first full year of WRC competition, and mark the true beginning of six seasons behind a M-Sport car. Latvala would finish eighth in the drivers’ championship, with his highest event finish being third in Rally Ireland. 2008 would see Latvala take a jump in the WRC standings. As he would finish fourth overall, 7 points behind Dani Sordo in the drivers’ championship. Latvala would also take 6 podiums during the season, including his first WRC win at Rally Sweden. The 2009 season would once again see Latvala place 4th in the championship. This time he would finish 23 points behind Dani Sordo. Latvala would podium 4 times during the season, including 1 win. The 2010 season would see Latvala take his first top-three finish in the drivers’ championship. As Latvala would finish 105 points behind Sebastien Loeb. Latvala would finish on the podium 6 times during the season, taking home wins in New Zealand and Finland. Latvala would fall back to fourth in the 2011 drivers championship. As Latvala would finish 24 points behind Sebastien Ogier. Latvala would take home 8 podiums during the season, including a win at Rally GB. Latvala’s final season in a M-Sport Ford car would see him finish 3rd in the championship, finishing 59 points behind Mikko Hirvonen. He would finish on the podium 7 times during the season, including wins at Rally Sweden and Rally GB.
Moving To Volkswagen
The 2013 season would see Jari-Matti Latvala jump from M-Sport Ford to the new Volkswagen Motorsport team. He would be joined by Sebastien Ogier at all events and Andreas Mikkelsen at select events. In Latvala’s first season with Volkswagen, he would finish third in the drivers championship, 14 points behind Thierry Neuville. He would finish on the podium seven times during the season, including 1 event win. 2014 would see Latvala move up from 3rd to 2nd in the drivers championship, finishing 49 points behind his teammate Sebastien Ogier. Latvala would finish on the podium 8 times during the season, including wins at Rally Sweden, Argentina, Finland and France. Latvala would also finish second in 2015, this time he would finish 80 points behind Sebastien Ogier. He would finish on the podium 7 times during the season, including wins at Rally Portugal, Finland and France. In 2016 Latvala would fall out of a top three spot in the championship. As he would finish 6th overall, 18 points behind Dani Sordo. In his final season with Volkswagen, he would finish on the podium just three times, taking home a single event win which came at Rally Mexico.
Moving To Toyota
Latvala would join the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team in the 2017 season. In his first of three seasons with the team, he would finish fourth in the drivers championship, finishing 55 points behind Ott Tänak. Latvala would once again finish on the podium three times, taking home a single event win which came at Rally Sweden. The 2018 season would once again see Latvala place fourth in the championship, 53 points behind Ott Tänak. He would finish on the podium 5 times during the season, including his final WRC win which would come at Rally Australia. The 2019 season would be Latvala’s final full season of WRC competition. He would finish 7th in the championship, 4 points behind Kris Meeke. Latvala would only finish on the podium twice during the season and would go without a win.
The 2020 season would see Jari-Matti Latvala without a seat on a manufacturer team. Latvala would still compete during the season in a Toyota Yaris WRC run under Latvala Motorsport. Latvala’s final rally would be the 2020 running of Rally Sweden which he would retire from. He did have plans to attend a couple more events during the season. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic would prevent him from competing in other events as the season had been pretty much cancelled.
The end of the 2020 season would mark the end of Latvala’s time competing in the WRC. Latvala would subsequently join the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team as team principal. In the two seasons since joking Toyota as team principal the team has won 2 Manufacturers championships and 2 Drivers championships.