Citroen's Sebastien Loeb heads the pack in Argentina following the middle loop this afternoon, which saw Petter Solberg retire for the day in SS4 when he broke a steering arm.
Loeb had finished the morning down in fourth, 34.8 seconds off the lead, however, with 'Hollywood' forced out in La Pampa 2, he soon moved up to second and ahead of the second works Ford of Dani Sordo. Seb then set another quickest time in SS5, to make it two from two, leapfrogging his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. The Frenchman now heads back to service in Carlos Paz with a 1.1 second advantage: “We are in the lead, but it is very close with Mikko and there is a long way to go,” Loeb said.
Hirvonen meanwhile was disappointed with his pace in SS5, the repeat-run through Ascochinga 2: “I struggled a bit in that one,” he conceded. “I just couldn't find the rhythm. The ruts were bad too.”
Sordo is next up 12 seconds further back, having posted a fifth best time in SS4 and a second best in SS5, despite hitting a small stone and knocking the left rear wheel out of line.
Mads Ostberg holds fourth, albeit 43.2 seconds off the final place on the podium. He had a difficult loop, with engine problems costing him time in SS4 and then intercom issues leading to a 'huge' moment in SS5.
Nasser Al-Attiyah rounds out the top five, with Thierry Neuville classified in sixth under the Rally 2 rules. Neuville failed to finish SS5 after rolling his DS3 WRC car 26 kilometres in. He is expected to re-start on Saturday.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop lie seventh and eighth, split by just 0.3 seconds. Sebastien Ogier had been right up with team-mate Mikkelsen, until he picked up a puncture in SS4. He is now ninth, 19.5 seconds back. Armindo Araujo completes the provisional top ten.
In addition to Solberg and Neuville, Ott Tanak also hit problems this afternoon. Tanak, who had already lost bags of time this morning, stopped again in SS4, when he went off the road and got stuck.
Friday's action now concludes with SS6, the 19.18 km Cosquin-Villa Allende test. It will start around one hour later than originally scheduled at around 18.25 hours local time [22.25 hours UK time], however, after the problems this morning when the fuel truck broke down.
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 06mins 52.9secs
2. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 01.1secs
3. Dani Sordo
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 13.1secs
4. Mads Ostberg
Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 56.3secs
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +04mins 55.6secs
6. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +05mins 14.2secs
7. Andreas Mikkelsen
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +05mins 43.9secs
8. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 44.2secs
9. Sebastien Ogier
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 03.4secs
10. Armindo Araujo
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +07mins 18.2secs
11. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +09mins 25.2secs
12. Nicolas Fuchs
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +14mins 18.1secs
13. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +14mins 37.0secs
14. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +14mins 58.6secs
15. Benito Guerra
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +15mins 25.5secs
16. Eliseo Salazar
MINI John Cooper Works WRC +16mins 00.0secs
17. Daniel Oliveira
Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16mins 06.2secs
20. Paulo Nobre
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +18mins 23.5secs
* assumes runners will re-join under Rally 2
PWRC standings after Stage 5 – Top 3:
1. Nicolas Fuchs
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2hours 21mins 11.0secs
2. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 18.9secs
3. Benito Guerra
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +01mins 07.4secs
SS3. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Lost wheel
SS3. Paulo Nobre
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Stopped
SS4. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Steering arm
SS4. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Stopped
SS5. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC Rolled
all times unofficial