Jari-Matti Latvala's place in the BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team is to be 'reviewed' after he suffered his third crash in four World Rally Championship events in Portugal.
The Finn had opened up a ten second lead after the first three stages of the rally, but crashed heavily on SS4 through Malhao when he braked too late for a tight corner, clipped a bank and was sent over the crash barriers.
Rolling several times before coming to rest, although Latvala says it was the biggest accident of his career, both he and co-driver Mikko Anttila escaped unhurt.
However, having also crashed out of good positions in Ireland and Cyprus, Latvala faces bigger problems behind the scenes after the team admitted they are going to review whether or not to retain him for the immediate future.
It is a situation Latvala, who turns 24 today, is not surprised to be in, admitting his performances have not been good enough.
“The crash happened after a blind crest, when I should have been braking for a slow corner that followed,” Latvala told the WRC website. “But it seems I have a little problem in that I want to brake only when I see I have to. So instead I went too fast, hit a bank, went over a barrier and that was that. That where my problem is.
“It's not an easy situation. I know that I have been giving the team a frustrating time. They want to get good results, and want to take the fight to Citroen, and I want that too, but I have had too many crashes and that's made it difficult. Malcolm is thinking what he will do next but the future is a little bit open now.”
Indeed, team boss Malcolm Wilson admits Latvala's position in the team is in doubt now, but added he will only make a decision until after the weekend is over.
“At the moment it's difficult to comment, but we have to review the situation,” he said. “It's been a disastrous start to the season, the worst we've had for a number of years. We made some driver changes last year when we brought in Francois Duval for some rallies and I think we now need to look at everything again.
“We tried a few things with Jari-Matti on the test, like trying to alter his pace notes, but now we need to have another think. It would be wrong to make a decision here, we still have Mikko to focus on, so we will be sitting down and reviewing things after this event.”
Latvala has been replaced in the team before, Ford opting to place Francois Duval into the factory Focus on the tarmac events at Corsica and Catalunya last year. Latvala drove a Stobart Ford on those occasions.