Rally driver penalized after hitting spectator and continuing on
Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Mikka Anttila have been jointly fined $5,400 by the FIA World Rally Championship after hitting a spectator during the Monte Carlo Rally and then continuing on their way.
Latvala has also been given a one-race suspended ban, meaning he will be banned one race if a similar event occurs at any other point during the season.
The incident occurred during the 11th stage of the event, when Latvala lost control of his Volkswagen and struck a spectator in a low-speed incident:
Latvala claimed that he did not see that he had hit the spectator and so continued on his way. The spectator appears to have been OK, as no statement has been made on any injuries, no one was seen running over to check on him in the video and, in fact, he appears to be in the process of getting back on his feet when the camera cuts away from him.
In a Volkswagen team statement, Latvala said:
"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.”
However, after reviewing footage the stewards argued that even if Latvala hadn’t seen that he’d hit a spectator, he knew he had gone off course into a crowd of spectators and was obliged to stop to check that everyone was OK.
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