Jari-Matti Latvala's "experience, aggression and exceptional speed" convinced Volkswagen Motorsport that the Finn was the ideal candidate to partner Sebastien Ogier in its factory line-up from the start of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship.
Following his five-year stint as a works Ford driver, Latvala will switch to Volkswagen to pilot one of its all-new Polo R WRCs from January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo onwards.
The news, confirmed as Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila complete their preparations for this week’s Rally Italia Sardegna with Ford, will create one of the strongest driver line-ups in next season’s world championship.
“We’re proud and highly pleased to have gained Jari-Matti Latvala for our World Rally Championship project,” said Volkswagen Motorsport director Jost Capito. “He’s one of the most distinguished WRC drivers in the field and has experience, aggressiveness and exceptional speed. I’ve known Jari-Matti since his early days in rallying and have been watching his development very closely. He’s a true reinforcement for our team.”
Capito said the capture of Latvala’s signature was another boost to Volkswagen’s bid for WRC glory from 2013: “The fact that another top-flight driver believes in our success and is switching to our team gives each member of our team an additional motivation boost. In Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala we’ve got an excellent driver line-up for the debut of the Polo R WRC in the 2013 World Rally Championship.”
Latvala, who became the youngest winner of a world championship qualifier when he triumphed on Rally Sweden in 2008, has seven WRC victories to his name and is currently third in the drivers’ standings with two rounds of this season remaining.
“I’m very happy to be driving the Polo R WRC in the World Rally Championship in future,” said the 27-eyar-old Finn. “The determined approach of the Volkswagen team convinced me to accept this challenge. The time at Ford was very valuable for me and I would like to thank everyone who supported me there in the past years - it wasn’t easy for me to say goodbye. At the same time, I see the change as a personal new beginning. I’ve taken this decision in order to make another step towards reaching my big aim: the world champion’s title with Volkswagen.”