BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala was left feeling bitterly disappointed at the end of the Rally Finland on Sunday, after an error early on Friday cost him any chance of a good result.
Latvala had been expected to finish right at the front of the pack and coming into the event he was keen to get on the podium. It all went pear-shaped for the 23-year-old however, in just the second 'proper' test, when he went off the road following a jump 4 kilometres from the start of the 11.38 kilometre-run through Mokkipera 1, SS3.
Latvala hit the front right of his Focus RS WRC07 in the previous corner and then landed in a ditch on the following jump, the initial impact having broken the car's front right steering arm. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila both escaped uninjured, but they were unable to continue.
Although he re-started under the SupeRally on Saturday and then concentrated on rebuilding his speed and confidence - claiming four stage wins - the 45 minutes worth of penalties left him well down the leader-board and a lowly 39th at the finish. His only small consolation was that he still managed to pick up the final manufacturers' point for Ford.
"The rally didn't go as I expected unfortunately and I didn't achieve what I wanted, which was a podium," he reflected. "I feel quite empty. It ended for me on Friday morning and that was all due to an error I made on the recce when I didn't mark a rock in my pace notes.
"At least I got my confidence, rhythm and speed back and drove the new stages, which is good for future efforts. It was difficult to be motivated but the best medicine after an accident is to get back behind the wheel. I know the speed is there so I hope that next year I'll have the chance to fight for a win here."
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile certainly wasn't very impressed by the error, although he did add that Jari-Matti is still young and still learning.
"You know, I knew something would happen. I had a feeling last night when I went to bed. I am very disappointed," said Wilson Sr on Friday. "Jari-Matti's first stage time I thought was just perfect. Not lightning quick but certainly up there. I can only think he must have thought: 'Right that is my first stage carefully done; now I can go for it'.
"He damaged the steering on a bend and then on the next jump it broke completely ending in a big accident. I have spoken to him but it wasn't a very long conversation. He hit a rock - a rock which sounds like it's about half the size of a car - and while all of the other drivers had this rock marked in their notes, Jari-Matti didn't. He made a fundamental mistake in making his pace notes by not including that rock.
"It's another wasted rally for him and not good for our manufacturers' championship. You don't win this event without experience. But you've got to remember that he is only 23."