Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala has spoken about the huge crash that took him out of the battle for the lead of Rally de Portugal today.
It happened on Stage 5, the repeated 21km Silves, when Latvala was trying to close a 0.4sec gap to his rally leading team-mate, Sebastien Ogier.
The Finn was 1.3sec quicker than Ogier at the 9.2km split, but just 2kms further on things started to go badly wrong.
“In the morning we were running soft [compound] tyres but we started stage five on a cross mix of hard and soft. The balance was not the best and the car was understeering a bit,” Latvala told wrc.com.
“At a left-hander the car understeered and went a bit wide. I corrected, and thought it would come back, but there was a big, big hole at the outside of the corner, maybe from where the rain had washed away the road. I hit the hole and the car went on two wheels, then the front hit the bank and we rolled.”
The Polo R landed back on its wheels but sustained heavy frontal damage when it speared into the bank. Latvala hopes to restart on Saturday, but acknowledged that the extent of the damage might make that impossible.
“The roll cage looks fine, but it’s taken a very big impact to the front, and the left-hand chassis leg has bent quite badly. There’s quite a lot of work to do to get that straight. But if the guys can do that then there is a chance to drive.”
The crash is the fourth in six years for Latvala at Rally de Portugal. In 2009 he was lucky to escape unharmed when he rolled his Ford Focus 200 metres down a hillside. He hit a tree at 110kph in 2010 and lost the rally lead in 2012 when he hit a rock and drove off the road.