Jari-Matti Latvala has admitted he expected to die in the Rally of Portugal accident that destroyed his Ford Focus RS WRC.
Latvala arrived in Faro under intense pressure to deliver a result, following two accidents in the opening three rallies. Instead, the 24-year-old Finn suffered a terrifying crash in which his car rolled 17 times down a mountain. Following the accident, Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said he would put Latvala back in a rally car just three days later.
Latvala lost control of his Ford at a left-hand corner on the fourth stage of the event. He was leading at the time of the crash.
"It was all my fault," he said. "I had the corner marked with a double caution, but the night before, I changed it. I have realized you should never change your notes after the recce.
"I realized we were going to crash, so I tried to use the Armco to slow the car. But it rolled over it and then it rolled and rolled. I can remember the crashing and the roll cage coming in. I thought: 'We cannot survive this, it's just not stopping.'
"When it did stop, I looked to my co-driver Miikka (Anttila) and his eyes were red and full of blood because we had been upside down so many times. After I checked we were OK, I said: 'Maybe this was our last rally.'
"I thought I was going to die. It was my biggest accident ever. I have to thank the team and the FIA for saving my life and building such a strong car.
"Now I need to drive again. I need to move on."
Wilson elected to switch his drivers' plans around to allow Latvala to drive on Monday to he could be back in the car as soon as possible.
"He needs to be back in the car," said Wilson. "I do believe this accident will change him. This won't happen in Argentina. We will work with Jari-Matti and Miikka again before the next rally.
"We are a team and we remain 100 percent behind them. That was a shocking accident. I wasn't prepared for what I saw. I couldn't believe the two guys in that car were in my office a couple of hours later."