After 178 World Rally Championship starts and eight world titles, there’s not a whole lot new for Sébastien Ogier to experience behind the wheel of a rally car.
Yet, on last weekend’s Rally Italy Sardinia, he found himself in unchartered territory as, bizarrely, his foot slipped on the brake pedal which led to his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 going off the road.
He had been holding a narrow lead over Esapekka Lappi at the time.
“Unfortunately we realized one minute before checking in that we had a slow puncture on the rear,” Ogier told DirtFish.
“We had to change the tire again and put a hard [on] unfortunately.
“But we managed to change it in less than a minute, we checked in like two seconds before being late, but that all happened in the mud.
“Then I jumped in the car, start the stage, and so stupidly I don’t know… I brake and my foot slipped from the pedal.
“My foot [was] full of mud, I slipped from the pedal and then the time that I jumped on the brake again I don’t know… it was too late, I locked the tire, stalled the engine and just… nothing.”
A first-time experience Ogier would rather he never had to have.
But the Frenchman is far from the only driver, or even world champion, to encounter such difficulties.
All the way back in 1981, Hannu Mikkola was debuting Audi’s revolutionary Quattro and befell the same fate.
The Quattro had already proved its worth, and the benefit of four-wheel-drive, in the hands of Franz Wittmann Sr who drove it to a dominant 20-minute victory on the Jänner Rally in the European championship.
But Mikkola was entrusted with Ingolstadt’s creation for the first WRC event of the year, the Monte Carlo Rally.
Quickest on the opening stage by close to a minute, Mikkola shot off into the distance to lead Jean-Luc Thérier’s Porsche 911 by over four-and-a-half minutes after 10 stages.
But then it all went wrong.
Under braking, the Finn’s left foot slipped off the brake pedal and he went off into a bridge parapet, tearing a front corner off to arrive at the stage finish on three wheels.
This was in a time when it wasn’t against the rules to drive without four freely rotating wheels, so Mikkola continued on the rally but clocked up a four-minute penalty for lateness to accompany his time loss in the accident.
His rally would ultimately end when the brakes failed completely and he crashed into a wall.