Ford engineers have admitted they can offer no further help to solve the engine problems which are plaguing Jari-Matti Latvala's Fiesta RS WRC in Germany today.
After suffering the issue on the afternoon's first stage, Latvala changed the spark plugs on his car ahead of SS5, while carrying out other work after lengthy telephone conversations with the team. Unfortunately for the Finn, the car dropped back onto three cylinders soon after the start of the Grafschaft Veldenz test.
Team spokesman Mark Wilford said: "Unfortunately, Jari-Matti's going to have to live with the problem until he gets back to service. The engineers were all talking to him before the start of the stage with advice and possible ways to fix the problem, but it hasn't worked. It's very unfortunate after he led the rally this morning."
Latvala lost the lead running hard tires in the rain on SS2 and then suffered a puncture on SS3. Wilford added that the team did not expect the engine fault to worsen on the Ford.
"We're not expecting him not to come back to service," said Wilford.
Latvala's teammate Mikko Hirvonen has worked on the bent suspension which his Fiesta suffered following a collision with a wall on SS4. The Rally Sweden winner made adjustments to the car after the stage and only dropped 7.9sec to the fastest driver on SS5.
One more stage remains today, with Hirvonen just over a minute off the lead in third place. Latvala has now dropped more than four minutes with his combination of problems.