Latvala refuses to blame Ford co-driver Anttila for error

The Finnish driver crashed out after Anttila had called out the wrong information for a tight corner, telling his compatriot he could enter it at a high speed.

While Sebastien Loeb dominated the opening day of Rally Sardinia yesterday, Jari-Matti Latvala will reflect on one bad pace note for wrecking his chances of claiming a first win of the season.

The Abu Dhabi Ford driver was forced to retire from the event on yesterday's second stage after he damaged his car in a crash on the opening stage.

The incident had come after Latvala's co-driver Miikka Anttila had called out the wrong information for a tight corner, telling his Finnish compatriot he could enter it at a high speed.

Latvala told wrc. com: "Miikka made a mistake with a pace note and called a left corner much faster than it was.

"I approached the bend almost flat out, and by the time I realised it was slower and tighter it was too late. I tried to brake, but the road was slippery and the car went backwards into the ditch and hit a wall.

"The car ended back on the road but the impact damaged the left steering arm. We drove to the finish and tried to make repairs for the next stage, but there was little we could do.

"I don't blame Miikka. I've made plenty of mistakes behind the wheel and every co-driver has made an error at some point."

Loeb, the championship leader, has a 33.2-second lead in his Citreon over the privateer Citroen of Petter Solberg.

Loeb, who had been expected to struggle before the start of the event as he had to drive first on the dusty roads, said he was looking to repeat yesterday's performance in today's second leg.

"I prefer to be first on the road [today] with a big gap to the others behind me," said the seven-time champion.

Mikko Hirvonen, Latvala's teammate, did initially challenge Loeb at the front but lost ground on stage seven due to a puncture and is nearly a minute back in third.

Of the incident, the Finn said: "It was my own mistake. I went a bit wide, hit a bank and had a puncture."

Sebastien Ogier, Loeb's teammate, who has won the past two rounds of the championship in Portugal and Jordan, is unlikely to make it a hat-trick as he is fourth, two seconds behind Hirvonen, after deliberately slowing on the final stage to drop from second to fourth spot to gain a better running-order position today.

The third Ford car, driven by Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi, is on target for a points finish in ninth place, 4mins 53secs behind Loeb.

There are six stages today, with the final four taking place tomorrow.

Published: May 7, 2011 04:00 AM

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