Jari-Matti Latvala says he feels "incredibly bad" after crashing out of Rallye Deutschland while comfortably in the lead.

Latvala went into the final leg almost a minute up on Kris Meeke in second, but disaster struck in the very first test this morning - SS15, the 18.03 km Dhrontal 1 test - when he left the road in a long left-hander and skidded into a vineyard. The Volkswagen man then hit a barrier whilst attempting to return to the route and was forced to call it a day.

It was a bitterly disappointing result, as the victory would have been his first on asphalt and would have helped him close the 44 point gap to team-mate, Sebastien Ogier in the Drivers' Championship, as the Frenchman had crashed out on Saturday in the sister car, but unfortunately it was not to be.

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"We had victory within our grasps. I feel incredibly bad at the way we crashed out, especially for the team. I could have given them this win, but unfortunately I made a mistake with grave consequences," Latvala said.

"The conditions were extremely difficult today - it alternated constantly between dry and wet sections. A long left-hander, in which the road seemed dry, proved to be more slippery than I thought. The car ended up sideways on the exit from the corner and we skidded into the vineyard. Because we could not get back up the hill, I tried to get back onto the road by heading downhill. Unfortunately we hit a solid barrier in doing so and had to give up."

"As far as the championship is concerned, the gap to Sebastien remains the same," he added. "All I can do is try again to catch him at the next rallies, and to help Volkswagen seal the Manufacturers' title with races to spare in Australia."

Volkswagen Motorsport boss Jost Capito meanwhile was philosophical about Latvala's demise, even if it does mean the team has again failed to deliver on home soil. It also brings to an end VW's incredible run of 12 victories in succession.

"We are obviously disappointed. We were so close to a home win, but a small mistake had big consequences," Capito noted. "Unfortunately Jari-Matti Latvala was unable to convert his dominance into a victory. However, mistakes happen in rallying and they are part of the sport. We are only human, after all.

"However, after a record run of twelve successive wins, we need not feel too bad about one failure. It would appear that luck is not on our side in Germany. We win as a team and lose as a team."

Despite that, though, he was pleased to see Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen finish third - and by the fact that VW is now assured the Drivers' title, as Ogier can only be beaten mathematically by either Latvala or Mikkelsen.

"We lost out on a possible victory with Jari-Matti, but we gained a podium place with Andreas Mikkelsen.

"Congratulations to Thierry Neuville and Hyundai [too] on their first win in the World Rally Championship!" Capito concluded.