Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala
was 'extremely disappointed' after a mistake in the penultimate stage today all-but ended his victory hopes on Rally New Zealand.
Latvala, who was quickest in qualifying on Thursday, had set the pace in the opening stage this morning in his Fiesta RS WRC car, but he was unable to keep up with the Citroen's of Sebastien Loeb
and Mikko Hirvonen
from then on and was 25.1 seconds off the lead after SS6.
However in the next test disaster struck, when he went off and into a fence. That incident cost the Finn more than four minutes and dropped him down from third overall to ninth.
It is a bitter blow for the 27-year-old, especially as he is already a distant fifth in the drivers' championship, 74 points off the current leader, Loeb.
“Well it has not been an easy day,” Latvala lamented. “In the morning I was fighting with the car and I have not been happy with it. I have been trying to drive with it and fight the Citroens.
"I am so disappointed because I have been avoiding big risks and then I touched something and bang.
“Well not even bang, it was just a soft edge and the tyres dug in and then spun and we went through the fence and got stuck.
“I'm extremely disappointed. Nothing works this year. It is unreal. I don't have words for this feeling right now."