Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted he was surprised when team principal Malcolm Wilson asked him to stay with the squad for next year's World Rally Championship.
Latvala has suffered a torrid season so far, but Wilson demonstrated his continued faith in the 24-year-old Finn by confirming he will remain a factory Ford driver in 2010. There had been speculation that Latvala could have been replaced by Citroen's Dani Sordo for next season, but Wilson insisted that had never been in his plans.
"I'm perfectly happy with the two drivers I have," said Wilson. "There was never any truth in the rumors about Dani. I'm confident for next season."
After a series of costly accidents at the start of the season, Latvala appeared to have turned things around when he won in Italy. But he then threw away another eight points for the team when he crashed out of second place on the rally-ending superspecial in Poland earlier this month.
"It's been a very nice way to see from Malcolm that he has the support [for me]," said Latvala. "I didn't expect [it]. I wasn't sure how he would be. It's been a little surprise that he has the support for me and I'm really, really thankful for this."
Latvala added that the announcement of Ford's two-year WRC commitment has relieved some of the pressure ahead of his home round of the world championship, which starts in Jyvaskyla tonight.
"This is a big relief," he said. "There's always pressure from my home event, it's important there's no more, extra, pressure. This has taken some of that away."