WRC Rally Argentina 2013: Ogier retains lead
2 May 2013
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier continues to lead Rally Argentina following the opening two stages this morning - although he felt he had been unfairly held up by Dani Sordo in SS3.
Ogier, who was quickest in SS1 on Wednesday afternoon, completed the first test of the day in 18 minutes 20.1 seconds, 5 seconds up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, to extend his overnight advantage to 8.8 seconds.
The Frenchman then had to settle for third though in the next test - the 51.88 km Citroen Ascochinga/Agua de Oro stage - and at the finish he hit out at Sordo. The Spaniard had rolled in SS3, and lost over 7 minutes after breaking the power steering on his DS3 WRC, dropping him from 7th overall to 15th.
“Yeah, that was a nice strategy there [by Citroen], to block us in the stage,” Ogier told the official WRC site.
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile topped the times in that stage, 2 seconds up on Sebastien Loeb, and 6.7 seconds up on Ogier. The Finn moved up to second overall in his Citroen as a result - 3.6 seconds off P1. Loeb's second best time was also enough to move him up to third, with Latvala dropping down to fourth.
Mads Ostberg rounds out the top five for the Qatar M-Sport WRT, 9.7 seconds back, followed by VW third driver, Andreas Mikkelsen and then team-mate, Evgeny Novikov.
"This morning hasn't been perfect, but at least we are through. I've really been struggling to find the right feeling with the car and I have to drive differently to what I'm used to," Ostberg said. "It feels like we're missing power. The handling is good and everything else is working well, so I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the altitude, but it didn't feel like this in Mexico. The surface is very different here so maybe it's a combination of things. Either way it doesn't feel quite right so we'll have to work on that.
"We were fastest on the downhill sections so that is a positive. We'll try and build on that over the second loop, but it will be really rough as there were already quite a lot of stones on the first pass."
“It was definitely not a bad choice for me to be running first on the road today," added Novikov. "We were able to choose our own lines and there weren't any stones on the stages which meant we could cut where we wanted without taking any big risks.
“I'm sure the stages will be a lot rougher this afternoon, we'll just have to wait and see. There are a lot of kilometres still to run, so we'll see what happens.”
Thierry Neuville, Gabriel Pozzo and Martin Prokop complete the provisional top ten, with Michal Kosciuszko and Daniel Oliveira eleventh and twelfth.
“The stages were quite bumpy and rough so it was not easy," Neuville remarked. "We decided to take a cautious approach to protect the car. This rally will be very hard for the mechanics so we are not taking any big risks at the moment.
“We had a small issue with the wipers towards the end of the first stage [SS2], but it didn't affect me too much and they were working perfectly for the long one [SS3] so that was no drama. It will be tough this afternoon. There are already some big stones on the stages so we'll have to be really careful. There is a long way to go and anything can still happen.”
In WRC2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari is out front in his Ford Fiesta RRC – almost a minute up on Nicolas Fuchs. Ricardo Trivino is third, while Marcos Ligato, who led the class overnight, went out in SS2 after breaking a wheel.
The opening leg now concludes this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's two stages. SS4, Santa Catalina/La Pampa 2, is due to start at 14.41 hours local time [18.41 hours UK time].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 3 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hour 01mins 04.0secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +03.6s M
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +06.0s M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +23.5s M
5. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +33.2s M
6. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +55.9s T
7. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 05.5s M
8. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 25.9s T
9. Gabriel Pozzo Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 08.1s T
10. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 19.4s T
11. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +3m 43.6s T
12. Daniel Oliveira Stohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 14.2s
13. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +6m 44.3s WRC2
14. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +7m 43.5s WRC2
15. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +7m 47.5s M
16. Ricardo Trivino Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +8m 56.8s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 3 (Top 3):
1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 07m 48.3s WRC2
2. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +59.2s WRC2
3. Ricardo Trivino Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +2m 12.5s WRC2
all times unofficial