Last-minute error in Poland very heavy on his mind
Rally winner Mikko Hirvonen and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala were about to clinch a perfect result at the conclusion of what had been an intense and flat-out battle which nearly covered the whole Rally Poland weekend.
disaster struck during the event's closing super special stage, moments away from clinching the top two positions and taking a maximum points score for the Ford team at the World Rally Championship's eighth round of the season.
"I wasn't driving too quickly but I turned into the bend too early and clipped an oil barrel which was full of sand," Latvala detailed. "The impact broke the steering and I couldn't turn into the next bend and hit the barrier on the opposite side of the road."
The factory team Focus RS got stuck in the barriers while Latvala desperately tried to reverse the car and resume the very short stage despite a broken suspension. But when smoke appeared, the stewards rushed in with their fire extinguishers to put out the engine fire.
Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila even tried to push the car all the way to the finish line in an attempt to at least record a result, but the duo abandoned their efforts and were forced to accept their heartbreaking retirement from Rally Poland while the shocked Ford team members watched on.
Emotions were understandably high as Latvala took in the enormity of the error, which deprived his team of many precious points in its manufacturers' championship battle against Citroen.
"This is the biggest mistake I've made," Latvala readily admitted. "I have disappointed the whole Ford group and the Ford Motor Company. We were going to make a one-two, and with this disappointment I can't bring any benefit to the team."
The Finn openly considered that the mistake, added to other occasions where mishaps have occurred, could put an end to his relationship with the Ford operation.
"I understand really if they don't want me to carry on with the team," he declared. "I understand that."