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More Portugal woe for Latvala

31 May 2010

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's number two Jari-Matti Latvala failed to finish the Rally de Portugal at the weekend when he crashed out on the second day and hit a tree at 110 kph.

Latvala, who of course suffered that massive crash in Portugal last year, came into the sixth round in the 2010 World Rally Championship on a high having won last time out in New Zealand.

However from the start he wasn't especially happy and admitted that his off from twelve months ago was probably praying a bit on his mind. Despite that though, he soon settled into a good rhythm and was closer to the pace in SS4, SS5, SS6 and SS7, ending the opening day sixth, just 12.9 seconds off Petter Solberg in P5.

Saturday did not go well though, and while the 25-year-old made it through the opening test - and encouragingly was second quickest - he crashed out in the next one, the first run through the 25.23 kilometre Vascao 1 test, when he made an error just 400 metres in.

"The third bend on the stage was flat out and led into a right corner," Latvala recalled. "I was a little late turning into the second corner and hit a bank. The car started to spin and hit a tree about 40 metres from the road. The rear of the car took the impact and was too badly damaged to continue. I knew as soon as I hit the tree that the day was over.

"It has been a difficult rally for me. I was too cautious on the opening stage on Friday morning. I was afraid of tyre wear on the hard roads and maybe last year's accident was at the back of my mind as well. I wasn't scared, but just not so confident.

"I carried two spare wheels too but it was cloudy and cooler than we expected on the stages so there were no tyre wear concerns.

"After that bad opening stage though I started to find a good rhythm and I was quite happy. This morning my target was to climb the leaderboard and I made a good start on the opening stage. But now I've lost manufacturers' points for the team and I'm disappointed."

Latvala had hoped to be able to re-start under the SupeRally rules on Sunday, but in the end he was unable to do so, because his Ford Focus RS WRC car was too badly damaged. It was his first DNF of the season - and it ends a run of nine successive points finishes stretching back to last year's Rally Finland.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team director Malcolm Wilson meanwhile was short and sweet in his assessment.

"Jari-Matti was doing a good job but he made a mistake and he needs to learn from that," Wilson summed-up.


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