Latvala swaps generations to make Ford Escort rally debut
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala will swap his state-of-the art Focus RS World Rally Car to drive a Mk 2 Ford Escort RS1800 in a historic rally in his native Finland next weekend.

Twenty-four-year-old Latvala, currently leading the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship for Ford in Sardinia, will be the biggest name at the start of the Lahti Historic Rally (29 - 30 May), the fifth round of the FIA European Historic Rally Championship.

Latvala is a huge fan of rallying's history but has never before driven an Escort, one of the sport's most successful cars, in competition. Latvala will be co-driven in the two-litre BDG-engined, rear-wheel drive Escort by Asko Sairanen, with whom he competed in Rally Finland in 2006.

"My father bought the car and I agreed to drive it on the rally for fun," explained Latvala. "The Escort was the greatest rally car of the 1970s, before I was born, and this will be the first occasion that I have driven a rally in one. I hope to have a little time to test the car next week before the rally starts. It's huge fun driving rear-wheel drive cars and I'm looking forward to getting the car sideways and putting on a good show for the fans in the forests.

"Some of my rally heroes, drivers like Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen and Bjorn Waldegård, drove Escort Mk2 cars in the 1970s and 1980s so it will be a big thrill for me to follow in their footsteps. It would be fantastic to win but my priority is to have some fun," he added.

The Ford Escort made its competition debut in 1968, beginning one of the finest chapters in the Blue Oval's rallying history. In its various guises, the Escort has won thousands of times around the world and, 41 years after its launch, it is still adding to its roll of honour in countries far and wide.

The rally is based in Lahti, in the heart of Finland, and comprises 135km of competition over two days. Ninety-five cars have entered and it is the only round of the European Historic Championship based on gravel roads.

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