Jari-Matti Latvala has stressed he was not aware he had made contact with a spectator following the crash that ultimately eliminated him from the Monte Carlo Rally.
The Finn was running in a comfortable third position when he ran wide at a right-hand turn during SS11, dropping the Polo's left-rear into a water gully, which then dragged the left-side of the car into the ditch too.
With the Polo hitting a mound of earth, enough to damage the suspension, the impact forced the car into the adjacent field, where Latvala struck a spectator who was retrieving his camera from the ground to prevent it from being run over.
With Latvala carrying on to finish the stage at touring pace, subsequent repairs to his Polo's suspension on the following road section were to no avail, forcing him out of the rally with no opportunity to restart on the fourth and final day of action.
Latvala, however, was more concerned about his incident with the spectator, insisting the steam and mud from the off itself, coupled to the low speed impact, meant he wasn't even aware he had struck anyone until the team told him.
“I would first like to stress that I am very sorry about what happened today. We came off the very slippery road after a right turn, skidded into a ditch and came out in a field. My visibility was hampered briefly by thick steam from the engine and mud that had sprayed up from the ditch.
“I saw a spectator jump to the side and drove slowly back to the road. The team contacted me after the stage and informed me that I had touched a spectator. As I said, I am very sorry about the whole incident."
VW says it has received no information to suggest the spectator isn't but unhurt by the impact.