Loeb ticks off another stage
28 April 2012
Sebastien Loeb has concluded day two in Argentina with a 7.2 second lead, and with team-mate Mikko Hirvonen having been ordered to hold position, he just has to reach the finish now to secure the victory.
Loeb came through SS13, the repeat-run through the 6.04 km Parque Tematico Carlos Paz Super Special, which kicked off proceedings on Thursday night, with relative ease. However he knows Sunday won't be easy, especially as it includes a run through the Matadero-Ambul test that is 65.74 km long.
“We had a good day," Loeb reflected. "This afternoon, we took as few risks as possible, especially in the twisty sections. I drove the car my way, Mikko [who is second] drove his car his way and we ended up with more or less the same times.”
“We ended the day at a good pace and where we want to be,” Hirvonen added. “In situations like these, you can't ease off too much, otherwise you run the risk of having an undriveable car. The team is in the best possible position, especially as the third-placed driver is now nearly two minutes behind. We'll have to keep it up tomorrow!”
Behind, Dani Sordo remains a distant third, ahead of fellow Ford men, Mads Ostberg and Martin Prokop.
“I made no mistakes but I wasn't so happy with my times this morning,” Sordo said. “I didn't have full confidence in my pace notes, but they were better in the second pass. I had a front left puncture in the middle stage this afternoon and I only had one spare wheel. I couldn't afford another puncture so I was more careful in the last stage.
“The roads were fun with jumps, fast corners and water splashes. I could have driven flat out, but even then it would be unlikely that I would close the gap to the drivers ahead. My goal is to keep this position. It would be better to finish third rather than take risks and go off the road,” he added.
Sebastien Ogier is next up, followed by his VW Motorsport team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen, both in Skoda Fabia S2000s, and then Thierry Neuville, who topped the times in SS13.
Petter Solberg meanwhile moved ahead of Armindo Araujo in the final stage, and he now lies ninth, although he is unlikely to make any further headway unless someone ahead has problems.
“This afternoon was perfect,” said Solberg. “The stages were fantastic and the Fiesta was so fast. My focus is to score as many points as I can so I didn't take any risks. I would like to have more kilometres to chase the people ahead, but I only have one day remaining so I will do my best."
The final leg gets underway tomorrow at 08.00 hours local time [12.00 hours UK time]. Six stages are on the bill, making up a total competitive distance of 132.19 kilometres.
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3hours 57mins 40.8secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 07.2secs M
3. Dani Sordo Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 46.9secs M
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 06.1secs M
5. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +09mins 22.5secs
6. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +10mins 26.7secs
7. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +10mins 31.7secs
8. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +11mins 48.0secs M
9. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +14mins 08.8secs M
10. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +14mins 17.7secs
11. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +21mins 51.0secs M
12. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +27mins 27.9secs M
13. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +28mins 09.9secs P
14. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +29mins 20.2secs P
15. Eliseo Salazar MINI John Cooper Works WRC +32mins 54.9secs
16. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +34mins 45.1secs P
17. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +36mins 39.4secs M
20. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +40mins 00.7secs
23. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +49mins 08.7secs
PWRC standings after Stage 13 – Top 3:
1. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 4hours 26mins 10.7secs P
2. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 50.3secs P
3. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +06mins 15.2secs P
SS1. Ramona Karlsson Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X Mechanical P
SS3. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Lost wheel M*
SS3. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Stopped*
SS4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Steering arm M*
SS4. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Stopped M*
SS5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Rolled M*
SS9. Alexey Kikireshko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Mechanical P
SS9. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X Mechanical P
SS9/SS10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 58.1secs M
SS9/SS10. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Overheating
SS12/SS13. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial