WRC points leader Jari-Matti Latvala has ruled himself out of contention for Rally Mexico victory, and warned it will be the toughest event of Toyota’s comeback year.
Beyond the disadvantage of running first on the dusty roads at the start of the first gravel rally of the season, Latvala is concerned at Toyota’s lack of testing in the hot and high-altitude conditions.
His former team Volkswagen tested on site in Mexico, whereas Toyota did its preparation in southern Spain.
“I don’t think I have much chance to win in Mexico,” Latvala told Motorsport.com.
“I am not afraid of opening the road, but we must be realistic about what we can expect from this position.
“I saw last year the advantage I had from position seven on the road – I was 40 seconds ahead of [Sebastien] Ogier at the end of day one.
“Mexico is going to be the most difficult rally of the season for us. We are a new team going to Mexico for the first time. The other teams have a lot of experience of this rally and these conditions.
“The team has done some simulation work, but we don’t know too much about how things will work when we get to Mexico.”
The Spanish test last week was Latvala’s second time in the Yaris on gravel.
“We got some high altitude in Spain,” said Latvala. “We were driving around 2000 metres [above sea level], which was good, but it could have been better – the road actually went up to 2300 metres but above 2000 it was full snow. Not so much use for Mexico!”
Video of Latvala rolling the Toyota Yaris during the test appeared on social media, but the crash barely interrupted the running.
“I have some experience of these things… and this one was probably the roll with the least damage in my whole career,” said Latvala.
“I was running with worn tyres at the rear to get a feel for how it would be.
“Braking for the corner, the car got onto the loose at the side of the road, I lost the rear and rolled into some bushes.
“I broke a rear bumper, a cross-member was dented at the front and there were some marks on the door – that was it!
“Straight after that, I did another 100 kilometres.”