Karlsson was in a strong second place in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship section of the event when the fire took hold midway through stage 15.
“We were very lucky,” said Swede Karlsson, who was competing in New Zealand for the first time. “We went off the road a little bit about one kilometre earlier in the stage and damaged the exhaust. There was some smoke in the car and then the car was really on fire. We didn’t have time to stop, we just jumped out while it was still moving.”
Karlsson, pictured right with Walfridsson, continued: “I was worried that Miriam didn’t make it out, but she was okay. That’s the only thing that matters, the car is just steel and we can make another one, but it is so disappointing looking back on it. We were going well. We’ll be back.”
Karlsson and Walfridsson are embarking on their maiden PWRC campaign in 2012. New Zealand marked their first appearance of the season.