Jari-Matti Latvala was just 16 years old when he took part in his first ever rally. Since his debut, the Finn has competed in a number of National events in his native country as well as on the British Isles. He has participated in a variety of racing events including the Subaru Cup Challenge in Italy where he replaced Mikko Hirvonen in the Motoring Club entry.
But unlike Hirvonen, who lost out on the last leg, Latvala won the series. His ability was there for all to see and in 2003, right after his 18th birthday, he got a chance to drive for the Ford motor company. Then he again got some chances to race with the Motoring Club and also had several Production Car World Rally Championship events and also some Junior World Rally Championship Events.
In 2006, Ford offered Latvala to participate in 4 rounds of the 2006 WRC calendar. AT a young age, Latvala showed no signs of being overawed by the situation and produced 4 solid and mature performances during the events.For the 2007 season, Latvala was handed a 2006 specifications’ Focus and a long list of critics to disprove. Teamed at Stobart with Henning Solberg, he drove wonderfully in an outdated car. He was always at a disadvantage by having a substandard car for the initial recce, which was part of the pre-event practice. In fact, the situation was so bad that on some occasions the team did not have a car that was fit enough to finish the recce.The only advantage that Latvala gained out of the entire setting was that he was no longer dependent on hunting for chances to race. He had a fixed tenure and he would be able to create his own schedule.
Hirvonen and Latvala have both emerged as exciting and incredible talents in the past seasons and the prospect of them coming together to BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team is mouthwatering for the rally fan. And heir similarities are uncanny – Both Hirvonen and Latvala have had a history of driving on Front Wheel Drives and both drivers have plied their trade in Finland and in Italy under the same patrons.