Latvala to start from lucky (?) 13th on Day 1
- 21st June 2012, 6:03pm
Interestingly Latvala’s team-mate Norwegian Petter Solberg, who was third quickest in qualifying, opted for position two.
The two Citroën drivers – Finn Mikko Hirvonen and French über-star of rallying Sébastien Loeb selected start positions one and three respectively.
Latvala joked around at the driver start order draw which was part of an exciting official welcome and opening function for Brother Rally New Zealand at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre this evening (21 June).
Latvala said: “The plan was that obviously as we are [heading] south tomorrow there is more gravel on the top surface than ever before. I know it’s winter and there is still a risk with the rain but I still believe when you do 200 stage kilometres and it will be dry at some point so I think the road will need cleaning, so that’s why we want to be further back. I’m not so scared about starting so far back.”
Selecting his start position second, Citroën’s Mikko Hirvonen, formerly Latvala’s team-mate at Ford, deferred his comments to co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen who said: “It’s so soft and we had to do something different to Jari! So we had to wind them up [by starting first].”
Third to pick, Solberg laughed and said: ““Mikko screwed up my plan!”
Loeb’s long-time co-driver and fellow eight-time world rally champion, Daniel Elena, commented: “It’s [the position] is not bad, but it’s very slippery here in winter.”
These four quickest qualifiers left the other eight WRC drivers to shuffle themselves through the middle of the running order with the number four on the road being Estonian Ford driver Ott Tänak, followed by Spaniard Dani Sordo in the Prodrive Mini, Finn Jari Ketomaa in sixth and Tänak’s M-Sport Ford team-mate Russian Evgeny Novikov starting seventh.
Austrian Manfred Stohl starts eighth in the Brazil World Rally Team Ford while American superstar Ken Block gets underway in ninth in the Monster World Rally Team Ford.
The WRC Team Mini Portugal team-mates of Armindo Araujo, from Portugal, and Paulo Nobre, from Brazil, take positions ten and eleven. Young Citroën driver, Frenchman opted for position 12, just ahead of Latvala.
The 13 WRC competitors – there were originally 14 entries, but Petter Solberg’s older brother Henning has not arrived in New Zealand – will be followed through all stages of Brother Rlaly New Zealand by the five Super 2000 World Rally Championship competitors headed by Kiwi star Hayden Paddon. Then there are nine Production World Rally Championship crews, followed by the registered competitors in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, powered by Brother (NZRC) field, numerous non-championship competitors and those competing in the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally.
Masterton’s Richard Mason is top seed in the NZRC field, followed by Timaru’s Chris West and Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour.
Start order for Day One of Brother Rally New Zealand
As selected by the drivers in the order decided by their qualifying run times earlier today, shown in brackets
1. Mikko Hirvonen (2)
2. Petter Solberg (3)
3. Sébastien Loeb (4)
4. Ott Tänak (6)
5. Dani Sordo (7)
6. Jari Ketomaa (8)
7. Evgeny Novikov (9)
8. Manfred Stohl (10)
9. Ken Block (11)
10. Armindo Araujo (12)
11. Paulo Nobre (13)
12. Thierry Neuville (5)
13. Jari-Matti Latvala (1)
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