Title: World Rally driver
Residence: Tuuri, Finland
Marital status: Lives with partner Kirsi
First rally: 2002
First world rally: 2002 Rally of Great Britain
World rallies started: 67
World rally wins: 1
Last season Jari-Matti Latvala moved up again to the official BP Ford Abu Dhabi team and in only his second rally with the squad he claimed his maiden World Rally Championship victory in Sweden in February, becoming the youngest ever winner of a WRC round. He ended the season fourth in the championship.
There is no doubt that Latvala has the potential to become one of rallying's household names. He grew up around rallying
His first proper outing was at 16 when he competed in a series of Finnish rally sprints, for which a competition licence was not necessary. However, frustrated that he would have to wait until he was 18 to compete in rallies in his home country, Latvala persuaded his parents that the logical move was to Britain, where he could obtain a licence at 17.
Hardly pausing to blow out the candles on his birthday cake, on 8 June 2002 Latvala debuted in the Scottish Rally. This kicked off a 15-event programme in the second half of ‘02, taking in a variety of British rallies in a Renault Clio, a Citroen Saxo and a Mitsubishi Lancer. He made his WRC debut in Great Britain, finishing an excellent 17th overall.
In ‘03 Latvala concentrated on gaining as much experience as possible. He tackled four WRC events and the British Rally Championship in a Focus RS WRC, as well as seven rounds of the Subaru Cup in Italy, joining forces with co-driver Miikka Anttila at the start of the season.
Throughout ‘04 and ‘05, the young Finn furthered his learning on the WRC in a variety of cars
He joined the Stobart VK M-Sport team for four WRC events in a Focus RS, ending the year with an impressive fourth on Rally GB. He combined that programme with an attack on the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship in a Subaru Impreza, winning in Australia and New Zealand and finishing fourth in the championship.
In ‘07 Latvala stepped up to a full-time programme with the Stobart VK M-Sport squad. After a difficult start, he found his feet and gave an insight into his potential at the sport's highest level when he led in Italy, Finland and Japan. He claimed a career-best third on the penultimate round in Ireland before dominating the second and third days in Great Britain with a string of stage wins.
Latvala spends what spare time he can find playing ice hockey or snowboarding and enjoys running and orienteering to keep fit.