11 March 2012
Latvala rolls in Guanajuatito
More woe for Jari-Matti Latvala as he loses over seven minutes in SS22 - and his place on the podium...
Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala has slipped back down the order in Mexico after rolling his Fiesta RS WRC car in the long 54.30 km Guanajuatito test.
Latvala had been comfortably on course for third, 17.1 seconds up on his team-mate Petter Solberg, despite hitting a rock and damaging his suspension on Friday and despite knocking a wheel off on Saturday.
However in SS22 he had another problem and while he could continue, he had to stop to change a puncture, losing over seven minutes in total. He is now seventh.
Speaking about the incident, the Finn said he got distracted by Evgeny Novikov's accident ahead of him. Novikov had rolled into retirement on SS22 earlier on.
“I saw from far away Novikov's car,” Latvala explained. “I was very confused. I first thought the car was on the road and I made a movement to avoid it. My car then went off, away, and rolled. It took a lot to get back on the road. I think I can continue now but I have lost a lot of points.”
Latvala and Novikov weren't the only two in trouble though, as Chris Atkinson, Ken Block and Mads Ostberg also had problems in the same test.
Atkinson, who like Novikov had re-started today under the Rally 2 regulations, broke the front suspension on his Fiesta RS WRC and had to retire. Block and Ostberg also lost time due to punctures, the former forced to stop and change it.
Meanwhile, at the front, Sebastien Loeb had no such difficulties and came through just 0.7 seconds slower than his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, who was quickest. Loeb now leads Hirvonen overall by 35.8 seconds. Solberg is third, followed by Ostberg, Ott Tanak, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Latvala in positions 4 through to 7. Armindo Araujo completes the top eight.
“I do not care about the times now,” Loeb stated. “I have enough of a gap and I can control the race.”
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