BP Ford Abu Dhabi team boss Malcolm Wilson has branded the final leg of the Rally New Zealand as 'one of the most disappointing days' the team has ever experienced.
The factory Ford outfit were on course for a 1-2 finish with just two stages remaining, a result that would have lifted them back ahead of Citroen in the Manufacturers' standings and helped Mikko Hirvonen close the gap down to Loeb in the drivers' championship too.
However, the return to the long and treacherous Whaanga Coast route would prove to be one stage too many for the blue oval…
Jari-Matti Latvala was the first to flounder when he struck a rock and terminally damaged his Focus, but things got worse just seconds later when leader Hirvonen began to slow with a puncture, a problem that would lose him 50 seconds and the win.
Coupled with Francois Duval in the satellite Stobart car crashing out from fifth and Ford were staring at one of the most unfathomable stories to emerge out of the WRC in recent memory.
Indeed, although Wilson accepts that moments like this are in the nature of the sport, seeing Hirvonen lose an almost certain victory through no fault of his own was still a bitter pill to swallow.
"This is one of the most disappointing days that we've ever had. After being in commanding first and second places going into the last countryside stage, we certainly didn't expect to find ourselves with just third.
“I really feel for Mikko because he drove a faultless rally and showed he can take the fight to Loeb. Both he and Jari-Matti showed tremendous pace this weekend and we'll come back fighting,"