Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala has revealed that damage to the passenger door on his Polo R WRC and a pace-note delivered 'a little too late' was what led to his demise on day three of Rallye Deutschland.
Latvala had been leading by 14.8 seconds when he went off the road and crashed out in SS12 - the penultimate test of the leg, after SS14 was cancelled.
Speaking after the incident the Finn explained that the off had its origins in the contact with a hinkelstein – a large concrete block – in the previous test, Arena Panzerplatte 1.
“Unfortunately, there was a 'little incident' in the morning, which caused some damage to the passenger door. On the way to the next stage following the service, we discovered that Miikka [Anttila]'s door kept on opening,” Latvala stated.
“He had to hold it shut with one hand whilst thumbing through the notes with the other. At a particularly slippery section, the information was communicated a little too late and we hit a stone on the side of the track. This damaged the right rear suspension. We tried to keep going, but the suspension gave up shortly before the end and we slid off."
“Up until going off on track on the twelfth stage, this was our best asphalt rally so far this season – it was the first time that we were leading and victory was within touching distance. Tomorrow [Sunday], we will [now] be trying to pick up some points in the Manufacturer's category," added Latvala, who will re-start under the Rally 2 rules in seventh place.
Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito meanwhile was philosophical about the incident, although with Sebastien Ogier having gone out on Friday
, it means the squad will have to wait until next year to win on home soil.
“After some excellent results recently and a good start to this rally, we're going to have to take today [Saturday] on the chin. Although the Polo R WRC and our drivers have shown that Volkswagen are also more than competitive on asphalt, we are now out of the running for a rally victory,” Capito remarked. “Both Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala have led this rally. However, you need a bit of luck to come out victorious in the end. And that's what we've been lacking over the last two days.”