Jari-Matti Latvala admitted he was disappointed to have 'made things hard' for team-mate Mikko Hirvonen after going off the road on the final stage of day one of Rally Acropolis while leading the event.
Making the most of his road position, Latvala took the lead on the opening stage and maintained his advantage through to the start of SS6, which he went into leading Dani Sordo by just over ten seconds.
Rather than slow to get a better road position for day two, Latvala elected to push in an effort to extend his lead but made a mistake which saw him go off the road – losing more than three minutes and dropping him down to eleventh.
With Sordo slowing on the test, Hirvonen now leads into day two and will be forced to sweep the stages; something which hadn't been in Ford's plans for the end of the final day.
"I enjoyed a strong, clean run this morning,” he reflected. “Road position certainly helped on the first stage, which had a lot of slippery gravel on the surface, but not as much on the second test which wasn't as loose. I could have pushed more but it wasn't necessary. There was a lot of dust in the first stage and I also had to ease off when a pin holding the bonnet came loose. I could see the bonnet lifting on faster sections and I was worried that it would break off.
"[On the final stage] I was trying to drive as fast as possible to increase my lead. I drove a long downhill section into a medium left corner before a tight right bend. I braked too late for the first bend and the rear of the car slid into a ditch at the hairpin. It was a driver mistake and I'm really disappointed because it has made things hard for Mikko and the team tomorrow. I will try to climb back into the points but I can't push too much otherwise I will wear my tyres too quickly.”
Team boss Malcolm Wilson admitted that Latvala's error has made things difficult for Hirvonen going into day two, but pointed to Latvala's victory from the front in Sardinia last time out as a sign that anything could still happen.
"Everything was going to plan until Jari-Matti's mistake on the final stage,” he said. “That was a disappointment and it means that while Mikko leads tonight, he must open the stages and clean the roads in the morning. It's a difficult position, but Jari-Matti proved in the last round in Sardinia that it is possible to win from that situation and this is a long, hard rally."