Latvala won’t let Tanak become Toyota team leader
Jari-Matti Latvala is determined to not lett new Toyota World Rally team recruit Ott Tanak become the squad’s leading driver.
Latvala joined the Toyota team in late 2016 following Volkwagen’s departure from the WRC, and played a significant role in developing the Yaris in a rally winner.
For next season, Tanak joins the Tommi Makinen led squad following a breakthrough campaign at M-Sport in which he claimed his first two WRC wins, and had an outside shot at the championship.
Latvala knows Tanak will pose a threat within Toyota, but he says it will take time for him to settle in after seven years with M-Sport.
“I have worked to make the Yaris my car, and now Tanak will have to adapt to a new car,” Latvala told Autosport.
“I think it will be quite a good fight in the team. We have a strong team for next year.
“I know that I want to be world champion and to be world champion I have to be quicker than everybody and that includes him.”
Latvala said his own experience of joining VW after spending his formative career with M-Sport showed Tanak would not find the switch easy.
“I remember when I came from being with M-Sport and Ford, I was there for quite many years and it was difficult to jump on the Volkswagen,” he said.
“But this change to Toyota was easy because I had the experience of moving.
“For Tanak the move from M-Sport to Toyota will be his first change and it can be a little difficult to adapt when you have been in one team for so long.
“When I went to Volkswagen I went with a little bit of the feeling that this was Sebastien Ogier’s team, he had been there from the beginning.
“If you are quicker [than your team-mate] then it’s OK, but if not then you can stay a little bit in the shadows.”