Jari-Matti Latvala failed to stop and check on the photographer he hit in a low-speed crash during Stage 11 of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, and the World Rally Championship isn’t happy about that. Latvala claimed that poor visibility kept him from seeing the man on his hood, and the series didn’t buy that excuse.
Latvala said in a Volkswagen team statement, as quoted by Motorsport.com:
I would first like to stress that I am very sorry about what happened today. We came off the very slippery road after a right turn, skidded into a ditch and came out in a field.
My visibility was hampered briefly by thick steam from the engine and mud that had sprayed up from the ditch. I saw a spectator jump to the side and drove slowly back to the road.
The team contacted me after the stage and informed me that I had touched a spectator.
WRC was like, “Nah, dude, you knew you hit a guy.” While Latvala’s correct in that there was a lot of steam following his off-course venture, he definitely slowed for something there, most likely a thunk on the hood of some sort.
According to Motorsport.com, stewards determined that it was “not plausible” that Latvala unknowingly hit the man based on Latvala’s onboard video and testimony from WRC TV reporter Julian Porter. What Latvala told Porter differed from what he told the WRC. Autosport writes:
In a submission to the stewards, Porter said Latvala had said to him “when we went off we hit a spectator, we did not hit him hard but can you please check he is OK”.
Latvala said his request to Porter was “can you go and confirm with the marshals that I haven’t hit anybody”.
The stewards’ report, as quoted by Autosport, was pretty blunt in its assessment of Latvala’s incident:
The stewards stated that, looking at the images, it would be hard to believe that the driver and/or co-driver had not realised that they had hit a spectator as the body could be seen quite prominently on the bonnet and right in front of the windscreen.
At that moment the visibility through the windscreen on the driver’s side was not so bad and the body could clearly be seen clearly.
Dude, just own up to it. You hit a guy.
As such, Motorsport.com reports that Latvala has been handed a suspended ban for one WRC rally should he commit a similar infraction during the 2016 WRC season. Additionally, Latvala and his codriver Mikka Anttila were jointly fined €5000 ($5,399.25 U.S.). Both penalties were for the failure to stop and ensure all spectators around the incident were okay before moving on. All things considered, that’s a small fine for a pretty serious mistake.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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