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Jari-Matti Latvala has opted to start the opening leg of Rally Italia Sardegna at the bottom of the top priority drivers.

The Finn was fastest in qualifying earlier today in his Volkswagen Polo R, earning the right to choose his start position first. Unsurprisingly, he chose 13th and last of the leading drivers, to try to make the best of improved conditions lower down the order.

Khalid Al Qassimi, who was slowest in qualifying, will have the unenviable task of starting first, sweeping slippery gravel from the road surface to leave an increasingly cleaner and faster line for those behind.

“It’s mid-summer, the skies are clear and the temperature is 30°C so it means you want to start as far back as possible because in Sardinia the cleaning effect is quite big,” said Latvala.

“We saw in free practice how much the stage times improved as more cars went through, so for me it was clear that to start far back in position 13 was the best option.

“It’s a good feeling to start well. It was great to win my first WRC rally with Volkswagen in Greece but that’s history now. We have a good start position, but Friday will be hard. It’s a long day in hot conditions,” he added.

Just ahead of Latvala will be Evgeny Novikov, the Russian setting second fastest time in qualifying in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Sebastien Ogier, team-mate to Latvala at Volkswagen, will be ahead of Novikov.

There were no surprises in the selection, every driver selecting the lowest available position.

The full start order is:

1. Khalid Al-Qassimi
2. Michal Kosciuszko
3. Elfyn Evans
4. Per-Gunnar Andersson
5. Martin Prokop
6. Andreas Mikkelsen
7. Dani Sordo
8. Mads Ostberg
9. Thierry Neuville
10 Mikko Hirvonen
11 Sebastien Ogier
12 Evgeny Novikov
13 Jari-Matti Latvala
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