VOLKSWAGEN driver Jari-Matti Latvala says he will come out fighting at Coates Hire Rally Australia and believes his teammate and rival World Champion Sebastien Ogier could have a difficult challenge being first on the road at the start.
Latvala insists his 2014 World Rally Championship title bid remains on course despite crashing out of the lead in Rally Germany last weekend.
He had the chance to slash Ogier’s 44-point championship advantage after the Frenchman retired early in Germany after two crashes, but squandered a lead of almost one minute with an incident of his own on the final day of the rally.
“It would have been a really good chance to come out of the event 16 points behind, but it didn’t happen,” Latvala told David Evans of Autosport.com.
“I promise this will never ever happen again.
“Now I’m looking forward to Australia – it’ll be difficult for Sebastien to open the road there if it’s dry.
“I’ll be second on the road and I have a bit of a chance. There are four rounds to go, the fight goes on.”
Latvala added that he was upbeat about his improved pace on asphalt despite throwing away the chance of taking his first WRC win on the surface.
“This was not a high-speed accident coming from pushing too hard,” he added.
“I have never ever driven so well, never been so confident in the conditions, which are always changing.
“The main thing is that I know I can challenge Sebastien everywhere and I can drive under pressure.”
Three-time Rally Australia winner Mikko Hirvonen says he’s still got what it takes to win in the WRC despite struggling for pace in Germany.
The Finn was outpaced across the entire event by his junior teammate Elfyn Evans and has not won a WRC event since late 2012.
Hirvonen’s contract with the British-based M-Sport team is up at the end of this year, but he says he wants to remain in the sport and has options for 2015.
“I still believe I’ve got what it takes to win,” Hirvonen told Autosport.com.
“All the rallies are important, but the next one in Australia is an important event for me – and so is Rally GB this year.
“I think we will have a good chance on those rallies to go and fight for the podium.”