Dani Sordo has explained that he was smelling fuel inside his Hyundai as early as Thursday before his car dramatically caught fire on Friday morning’s opening stage.
Sordo’s Rally Japan ended in an instant when smoke he was experiencing within the cockpit began to intensify.
Initially the fire was just at the rear, but it soon engulfed the entire i20 N Rally1 – including the 100kW hybrid unit.
“I reported to my team already from the morning that it was smelling a lot, the car, like fuel, like too much,” Sordo told DirtFish.
“I’ve never seen something like this. Yesterday already there was smoke a lot but we didn’t know and also in the stage now we smell a lot and I was a little bit crying because of the smoke inside because it was really like petrol, like fuel.
“After it was going more and more and more and now at one point we see the fire inside the car. When we brake for this corner we just see the smoke coming in the front so it was total, really fast the car was completely smoking so I just went to put the handbrake and tried to take the fire out.
“It was a small fire in the rear, I tried to take it out, but under the battery or somewhere it was like a big one already, burning from some meters before, and I couldn’t stop with some small extinguisher and also the next car [Gus Greensmith] was coming, I asked for the extinguisher but when you start to have fire it’s very difficult.
“I was just trying all that I can to stop the fire but it was impossible. I’m so sorry to the team to lose the car.”
Asked how long it took for the car to go up, Sordo said it was just a “small fire” and he soon realized he was powerless to prevent it.
“I never could imagine the car would go on fire completely,” he said. “And when it started from the rear, even when I tried to open the door it was impossible to get in it was so hot smoke and pfft, we didn’t think nothing.
“I just took my phone but I could see the steering wheel and nothing more. You can do nothing, unfortunately it was really bad.”