Driver Flips Rally Car 17 Times On His Birthday, Lives

In-car camera and track-side footage shows Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland in a Ford Focus WRC flip his car in a corner and roll 500 feet a hillside during last weekend’s Rally de Portugal.

The Finn—celebrating his 24th birthday on the day of the accident—had already gotten off to a shaky start in the 2009 WRC season, going off the road in two of the three races before his big roll. While leading the fourth stage, his Ford hit the cliffside on a narrow dirt road, flipped over the Armco and began its roll down the hillside:

We rolled and rolled. I don't know how many times, but I had time during the accident to think about how it might end and what might happen. It was not nice.

When we were rolling, I could see the roll cage getting lower and lower and coming towards me. When you have an accident like this, you think it’s going to stop, the noise is going to stop soon, but this time it didn’t, it just kept on happening.


The Focus came to rest after 17 rolls against a tree and Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila walked away from the wreckage:

The work the FIA and Ford have done definitely helped Miikka and I walk away from it. That wouldn’t have happened 10 or 20 years ago. The work on side impact, the seats, everything has helped and I have to say a very big thank you for that.

Source:, Photo Credit: Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images

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