Ford's Petter Solberg has had to retire from the opening day of Rally Argentina after breaking a steering arm in SS4.

Solberg, who had been leading by just over 20 seconds, was force to stop about 6 kilometres from the end of the 37.51 km La Pampa 2 test. Although he tried to make repairs, he was unable to fix his Fiesta RS WRC car in sufficient time. It is now thought he will re-join the action on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations.

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile takes over at the top of the leaderboard post-SS4 after Solberg's woe. Hirvonen is 12.3 seconds up on his Citroen team-mate, Sebastien Loeb, who was quickest on the repeat-run through La Pampa 2.

Dani Sordo is third, 5.4 seconds further back, followed by Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg.