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Being part of the success: Jari-Matti Latvala highlights OMP’s role in Toyota’s WRC wins

Few people in the rally community are as familiar with OMP products as Jari-Matti Latvala. From the 2021 season, the Finn is the team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team, equipped with the Italian brand’s products, such as fireproof racewear and car seats, on the way to four Manufacturers’ world titles in six years and five consecutive Drivers’ world titles. Furthermore, Jari, a WRC star with 210 participations and 18 victories, mostly used OMP products during his competitive career. At the end of another winning campaign, we spoke to him to find out how OMP’s contribution can be decisive in excelling in rallies, even at the highest levels.

“I thank OMP for the work done and the help received for our success. There is always great communication between us. When one of our drivers provides feedback, OMP is always ready to improve”, Jari told ompracing.com. “The first thing I think about are the seats, thanks to the safety and comfort they guarantee. These are two key aspects. We are equally satisfied with the racewear, myself included, having worn suits, gloves, underwear and shoes at the Rally Finland”.

Latvala is quite a young team principal, being aged 38, but he also completed 13 full seasons as a WRC driver. Returning to racing one-off at the last Rally Finland, finishing with an outstanding fifth place on his debut with the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid car, Jari verified first-hand the progress made by OMP products in recent years. Two things particularly impressed him. “The HTE-ONE seat has made further progress. I felt less movement, I was more fixed. This is a very important factor in case of side impact. The ONE-S gloves are now lighter, but still give good feelings during use, with the right grip on the steering wheel”. Jari’s words highlight how the mission of OMP is not only to protect drivers and co-drivers, but also to ensure that they are in ideal condition to race. “Definitely yes. It’s not just about safety, but also about performance. First of all, the driver must feel comfortable. If there is something uncomfortable, his speed could be affected. Every little detail must be in the right place in order to get the best result”.

OMP has been a partner of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT since 2017, when the Japanese manufacturer returned to the World Rally Championship scene. A long-standing relationship like this is a strength. “We know our drivers are very satisfied with the products supplied by OMP, there is no reason to change. Some items have been improved during this year, such as the underwear which has been lightened. When you opt for a new supplier, there is always some risk. A long-standing partner, on the other hand, can more easily understand the direction you took, the areas in which you are competitive and those in which you want to catch up”.

The 2024 WRC season will begin with the Monte-Carlo Rally on January 25-28. Latvala already set the goal: “The priority will be to retain the Constructors’ title”. It would be the fifth in seven years. “In the Drivers’ standings our task will be a little harder, given that now only Elfyn (Evans) and Takamoto (Katsuta) will be involved in all the scheduled rounds. Being able to win the drivers’ title again would be a great bonus”. OMP will still give all its support to Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT.

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