Latvala played it safe and – rolled

Jari-Matti Latvala declared his quest to catch leading two Citroëns over yesterday after problems saw him drop from the podium positions. Despite that he actually continued pushing throughout the day and managed to climb back to third. With Petter Solberg being 17 seconds behind after 21 stage and Mikko Hirvonen out of reach in second place, one would think Latvala would engage safe mode and bring the car home in third, saving the big charge for power stage to collect precious points.

Instead, Latvala rolled on monster 54 kilometer Guanajuatito stage after setting blindingly fast times on split sectors. Was he aiming for Hirvonen? Or Loeb? Of course, driver can only drive and racer should only race, but hey, it’s about the points, isn’t it?

Latvala’s roll was followed by puncture, so crew stopped to fix that. All that resulted in over 7 minutes loss and Ford’s driver is now in seventh spot with only short stages remaining and car in questionable condition.

Seb Loeb is in safe lead, followed by Hirvonen and Ford’s number 2 driver Petter Solberg in third.

SS 22 was the last of Rally Mexico for Evgeny Novikov and Denis Giraudet.

In the end, I’d like to apologize if Latvala crashed for unavoidable reasons, but his split times suggest otherwise.

Well, we just learned Jari-Matti Latvala crashed after being confused by Evgeny Novikov’s crash. After dragging the car to the last proper stage, Latvala was stopped by FIA officials and not allowed to start on SS 23 due to damaged roll cage.

photo: Michelin, DPPI