M-Sport World Rally Team driver Eric Camilli has traced the cause of his spectacular Neste Rally Finland accident back to a mistake he made on the first day of the pre-event recce.
The Frenchman’s second outing on Finland’s gravel stages ended on SS14 when his Ford Fiesta RS ran wide at a fast left-hand bend, dug into a ditch and was launched into a series of rolls. Camilli estimated his car left the road at around 130kph and rated the crash as the biggest of his career.
Looking back at what went wrong, the 28-year-old pointed to the pace notes that he and co-driver Benjamin Veillas made right at the start of the recce – and their decision to amend them on Saturday morning.
“The pace notes were okay on the first day because they were written on the second day of the recce and I’d started to understand the roads,” Camilli told wrc.com. “But SS14 (where he crashed) was where we started the recce and my notes were not very good. I confirmed in the first stage (on Saturday) at Ouninpohja that all my ‘minus’ notes were in fact ‘plus, plus’ in a WRC car and sometimes flat out.
“I was on the lower notes so I decided to adjust my notes. But, in fact, the corner in SS14 was a real minus and I crashed.”
Camilli, who had only ever driven an R5 car in Finland before, admitted he was surprised at how much faster the stages were in WRC machinery and that the confidence he took from his shakedown performance may have had a bearing on how his weekend ended.
He said: “In Poland you have the speed but less turning. Here you have the speed, turning, trees alongside the road and jumps. It’s the most impressive event.
“I knew that before coming here it would be difficult for us – like in Sweden. In the Shakedown we tried to push and we were on the same pace as Paddon, Neuville and Østberg which was not that bad for our first time here and more than we expected. Maybe we took too much confidence or something like that and we crashed?”