Jari-Matti Latvala has come under fire from Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito for the incident on day one in Finland that dropped him out of contention for victory.
On just the second stage of the event, the Finn hit a rock and damaged the left-rear suspension of his VW Polo WRC, seeing him plummet down the order before he was finally forced to retire from the leg after stage four.
While he rejoined this morning under Rally 2, he was forced to start more than 20 minutes behind down in 88th place with any chance of a top ten finish having gone, with Capito admitting it was an incident that shouldn't have occurred.
“The first day of the Rally Finland showed emphatically just how evenly balanced the World Rally Championship is,” he said. “Citroën, M-Sport-Ford and Volkswagen are on a par with each other. Details have decided who wins the stages and leads the overall standings. Speaking as a fan, what more could you ask for?
“However, the opening day, with its short special stages, was also one with little to gain and a lot to lose – in stark contrast to the next two days. As such, Jari-Matti Latvala's suspension damage is a frustrating mistake, which should not have happened. However, we will work overnight to ensure his Polo R WRC is perfectly prepared again, so that he can still battle for points towards the Manufacturers' Championship.”
Latvala himself admitted that his only goal now was to try and ensure he added points to VW's tally with his own chances having gone for another year.
“I had a really good feeling after the first special stage,” he said. “Unfortunately I probably attacked a little too hard on the second stage. The car lifted more than I thought it would after a quick right-hander and a small crest. That carried me a little too wide and I hit a rock at the side of the route. That damaged the suspension immediately.
“After that we tried again and again to repair the Polo – among other things, we used an alternator belt. Unfortunately it did not hold up until the end of the day. I would like to apologise to the team for my mistake. I will do everything possible tomorrow and the day after to salvage as many points as possible for the Manufacturers' Championship.”