Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson has praised the speed Jari-Matti Latvala is showing to hustle the Citroens for a podium position on the Rally of France.
Latvala has collected three fastest stage times so far in the event and lies fifth, just behind Petter Solberg and third-placed Sebastien Ogier. Wilson said Latvala's pace was coming courtesy of the continued development of the Focus RS WRC and the increased speed from the Finn.
"Possibly the conditions have suited us, but Jari has really gone well in the tight and twisty sections of the stages," said Wilson. "He's obviously got a lot of confidence in the car. And we have continued to refine the car in lots of small areas. I can't be specific, and I'm not trying to avoid the question here, but you know we've done work on the dampers and there's stuff in the engine. There are a lot of smaller bits and pieces which have improved the drivability of the car. And, in these kind of tricky, slippery, conditions, the drivability of the car is very important."
Wilson added that he felt Latvala's teammate Mikko Hirvonen had lost his confidence in the sister Focus. Hirvonen is now trailing the top-placed Ford of Latvala by close to two minutes.
"There's no question that Mikko's problem is one of confidence," said Wilson. "We can see that he is actually a little bit faster than on the clean quick stuff. But on the tight and twisty stuff Jari is pulling the time out and that's down to the confidence.
"We'll keep working away at it, but the good thing is that he knows it can be done by somebody else because Jari's times are there."