Ford insists Latvala's drive is safe

Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson has insisted that Jari-Matti Latvala's drive is safe despite his enormous accident while leading the Rally of Portugal this morning

Ford insists Latvala's drive is safe

Wilson had urged Latvala to calm his driving after making costly errors in both Ireland and Cyprus, the former also while holding a comfortable first place.

He was leading today's event by 10 seconds when he rolled into retirement on SS4, his Ford Focus going over 17 times according to amateur video footage.

Given the Ford team's very public desire for Latvala to improve his consistency and pick up manufacturers' championship points, there was immediate speculation that Latvala's seat was under threat. But Wilson insisted that the young Finn still had the team's support and would remain in the car for the next round in Argentina at least.

"We were happy with Jari-Matti's times," said Wilson. "He wasn't going crazy but crashed at a slow corner where he had a double caution in his pace notes.

"The crash was a huge disappointment. Jari-Matti was comfortable and we felt he was under control. We need to look at what happened and work with him to find the answers.

"He will drive for the team in Argentina as planned and I have 100 per cent confidence in his abilities."

Latvala's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen leads the rally by 15s over the Citroens at the end of day one.

"Jari-Matti's accident has taken away our team strength and put the pressure onto Mikko, but he copes well with it," Wilson said. "He must try everything to win this rally and both he and the car have shown good pace here."

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