Ford's Petter Solberg has confirmed that a technical failure was not responsible for his off this morning in the opening test in France.
Early speculation, based on video footage of the incident
, seemed to indicate he might have had brake problems or a stuck throttle, as he went off and then ploughed through dense vines, before re-joining the stage and going off again. In the end he came to rest after hitting and felling a telegraph pole, which alarmingly almost collected a couple of spectators.
While on-one was injured, the impact damaged the front right of his Fiesta RS WRC car too severely to continue.
Speaking back in service, Solberg added that he was confident he would have been able to finish in third.
“I had a clean run from the start of the stage but went off the road at a fast left corner and into the vines,” he explained. “I kept my foot on the throttle because I knew the road was coming up again, but I didn't know exactly where or when. The windscreen was covered with leaves so I couldn't see properly and the road came up sooner than I thought.
“I went straight across the stage and into the vines on the other side. I eventually hit a telegraph pole. It was a big hit but I didn't immediately realise the pole had fallen down. It was only later that I knew it toppled over.
“I'm disappointed because I had a clean rally up to that point and I was confident of getting third.”
“Obviously when you look at the pictures it's unbelievable,” he added in an interview on the official WRC site.
“For sure something happened and obviously I have to look with Chris [Patterson – my co-driver] at what happened but nothing broke on the car,” clarified the 37-year-old.