Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala has apologised for knocking over a photographer during Stage 11 of Rally Monte Carlo, insisting "hampered visibility" was to blame for the collision.
The Finn lost control of his car after sliding into a ditch and hit a photographer at low speed during his return to the road.
”I would first like to stress that I am very sorry about what happened today," Latvala said in a Volkswagen statement. "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."
Volkswagen's outgoing motorsport boss Jost Capito added: "As soon as we heard the news, we contacted the crew as quickly as possible and started to look into what might have caused the incident. We very much regret what happened."
Latvala was forced to pull over after the incident in order to repair a broken suspension arm, which cost him around two minutes.
Although he managed to get going again, he failed make it to the start of the next stage in time and had to retire from the event for the fifth time from nine appearances.