Jari-Matti Latvala has lost third place on Rally Italy, after a technical problem forced him to retire his Toyota despite the World Rally Championship’s Saturday stages having already been completed.
Latvala had been engaged in a tight scrap for a podium place with his teammate Esapekka Lappi, initially losing time before recouping several seconds late on.
However, a hurried arrival at time control and constant engine revving indicated something was amiss aboard his Yaris WRC, which pulled away at racing speed before parking up on a road section between stage 16 and service in Alghero.
A root cause for his stoppage remains unclear, though impact damage is a likely cause for his technical woes.
“I don't know exactly what the problem is. There's talk about the alternator but we think this could be rock damage. There were so many rocks in there,” team principal Tommi Makinen told Motorsport.com.
Potential punctures had been on Latvala’s mind heading into Rally Italy, and he even resorted to moving stones out of the way by hand during this week’s recce.
He had been vigilant of stones and rocks throughout, stating after multiple stage finishes he had taken a cautious approach to avoid potential punctures and damage.
“There is some more margin [to fight Lappi], but after three zeroes, I don’t want to take that risk,” said Latvala at midday service, referring to his retirements at the last three WRC rounds in France, Argentina and Portugal.
Latvala’s other teammate Ott Tanak had retired on Friday after a nose-heavy landing over a fast jump.