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Latvala stays in P1 in Argentina

28 May 2011

Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala remains in the lead on Rally Argentina following the first loop today, although he is coming under increased pressure from Sebastien Ogier.

Latvala lost time running first on the road this morning, but despite that and despite a 'big moment' in SS8, the opening test of the day, he was still second quickest. He then went fifth in SS9 and fourth in SS10, before ending the loop with another second best time in SS11. As a result his overnight advantage has been trimmed by just 0.4 seconds - down from 18.2 seconds to 17.8 going into service E.

"About 1.5km before the finish [of SS8], my pace notes were too optimistic and the rear of the car broke away. I was lucky because I missed hitting the wall by a few centimetres," Latvala said.

"It wasn't bad being first into the stages," he continued, "and I wasn't afraid, although the roads were dirty and cleaned for those behind. But I used the whole road and took lines the others probably didn't want to follow! The second loop should be cleaner, especially in the braking points."

Ogier meanwhile is now up to second, having moved ahead of Petter Solberg in Las Jarillas-Falda del Carmen 1, when he was quickest - 6.6 seconds up on Latvala. The Frenchman gained more ground on Latvala in SS9 and SS10, cutting the gap to 14 seconds, before losing out in SS11, when he was 'only' fifth.

Solberg is next up and still in the fight, just three seconds back in his privately entered DS3 WRC.

Mikko Hirvonen holds fourth, and despite some good times – one second and two thirds – he has continued to slip back and now lies almost 20 seconds off the final place on the podium.

"My driving felt good but the times weren't as fast as I hoped," Hirvonen admitted. "I had the same feeling as yesterday in the asphalt, but not as bad. I slid too much on the dirt in the corners and things didn't work for me. I must continue to drive flat out because the time gaps are small. I lowered the car for the first stage but twice the car hit bedrock on the gravel and jumped onto two wheels."

Sebastien Loeb has put in a charge and won three of the morning's four stages as he looks to make up ground having incurred that one minute penalty on Friday for checking into the mid-day service too early. He now lies 26.2 seconds off P4 and 1 minute 6.7 seconds off the lead. Without that penalty he would have been right in it.

Further back Mads Ostberg trails the multiple world champion - although he is a long way back in his M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta, 2.5 minutes adrift. Local star Federico Villagra has moved up to seventh and is ahead of Matthew Wilson after the Englishman lost time with a puncture in SS10, something that cost him around 40-50 seconds.

PWRC front runners Hayden Paddon and Patrik Flodin round out the top ten, the former though has a massive lead, 8.5 minutes in hand.

Ken Block was the big casualty this morning and after transmission problems before SS10, he then stopped in the next test.

The action now continues this afternoon with a repeat-run through this morning's four stages. SS12, the 21.57 kilometre-run through Las Jarillas-Falda del Carmen 2, starts at 14.08 hours local time [18.08 hours British time].


Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 11 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC 2hours 34mins 45.1secs M
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 17.8secs M
3. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 20.8secs M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 40.5secs M
5. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +01mins 06.7secs M
6. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 54.2secs M
7. Federico Villagra Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04mins 42.0secs M
8. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 31.8secs M
9. Hayden Paddon Subaru Impreza STi +16mins 55.5secs P
10. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza STi +25mins 27.3secs P


Others:

11. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +25mins 41.6secs P
12. Dmitriy Tagirov Subaru Impreza STi +26mins 16.6secs P
17. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works +36mins 51.7secs M


PWRC standings after Stage 11 (Top 3):

1. Hayden Paddon Subaru Impreza STi 2 hours 51mins 40.6secs P
2. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza STi +08mins 31.8secs P
3. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +08mins 49.1secs P


Notable retirements:

SS5/SS6. Peter van Merksteijn Jr Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC Turbo M
SS11. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical M


all times unofficial


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