Elfyn Evans' quest for a first ever world rally championship title looks all but over after the Welsh driver crashed out in treacherous conditions in Monza on Saturday.
Evans slithered off a snow-covered road on stage 11 in the hills above Monza, putting him out of contention for the rest of the day and leaving Sebastien Ogier in pole position to clinch a seventh world crown.
"We came around a flat right corner with a short braking and the surface of the tarmac had changed," Evans told wrc.com.
"When I braked on that, it was just like glass and there was no chance of us slowing down at all. It completely caught me by surprise."
Evans arrived at this seventh and concluding leg of the coronavirus-disrupted season 14 points clear of Ogier.
With the title favourite now realistically out of contention for a top-10 finish, barring a miracle the title is Ogier's to lose.
"I'm really sorry for him (Evans)," Ogier said. "There are still lots of kilometres left in the championship, so I went into survival mode. I'm no longer in fighting mode."
Evans' Toyota teammate holds a 17.8sec lead over Dani Sordo, who won Saturday's closing stage back at Monza's Formula One circuit, with three more to go on Sunday.
Organisers cancelled stage 12 due to the poor weather forecast with the times for the 10th stage scrapped after an accident.
If Evans' car is not damaged beyond repair he will be counting on picking up bonus points in the closing Power Stage to give him any chance of stopping Ogier adding to his six previous world titles.