Tony O'Kane | Apr 8, 2009

You've got to admire rally drivers. That, or you've at least got to regard them as half-mad. Hurtling along dusty gravel tracks that have been scratched out of some European hillside at triple-digit speeds requires immense testicular fortitude, and we've got a great deal of respect for the men (and occasional woman) that do it for a living.

Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala is one such individual, and at 24 years of age is already at the pointy end of the rally field. However,accidents happen to even the most experienced of drivers, and it was on his birthday last weekend at the Rally de Portugal that Latvala had his biggest 'off' ever.

While leading the fourth stage of the rally, Latvala's Ford Focus clipped a cliff side, rolled over the Armco and tumbled down a mountain, eventually coming to rest against a tree.

Remarkably Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila emerged unscathed from the wrecked Focus, which you can see in the second video below. Talk about a memorable birthday.

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