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Loeb ends day 1 on top in Argentina – just...
27 April 2012
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has ended the opening day of Rally Argentina in the lead, albeit just 0.1 seconds up on his closest rival.
Loeb went into the sixth and final test of the leg, 1.1 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen in the sister works Citroen DS3 WRC car. However, the Frenchman was unable to extend his lead in the 19.18 km Cosquin-Villa Allende test, and had to settle for the second quickest time, 1 second slower than Hirvonen, who was fastest.
“I had a good start, but at the end visibility was bad and it was very slippery,” Loeb said post-SS6. “I lost confidence. I didn't want to go out so close to the end of the day. It was not easy.”
Hirvonen meanwhile is hoping he will be allowed to battle with his team-mate on day two: “Dani [Sordo] is not so far away. I hope we [Loeb and I] can have a bit of a fight [tomorrow],” he added.
Sordo, however, slipped back in SS6 and after opting to run on the harder tyres he was 20 seconds slower.
Behind, Mads Ostberg is fourth, 45.3 seconds further back, followed by Nasser Al-Attiyah and Martin Prokop.
"Things are going OK. The road conditions are still pretty tricky so we need to keep our concentration over the rest of the rally. We had an intercom problem in the long stage [SS5] which meant we lost some time but otherwise things are good", Ostberg commented.
"The conditions are still very difficult," Prokop added. "The stages are wet in places and really rough so it is hard on the car. As I said, I am still getting to grips with the characteristics of the tyres, but things are going well.
"My main aim for the weekend is to get to the finish and help DMACK develop the tyres. We'll try and push a little tomorrow, but mainly we are just taking the opportunity to enjoy the event and get the most from the rally."
Andreas Mikkelsen is next up in his VW Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia S2000, 22.8 seconds ahead of team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
Armindo Araujo and Thierry Neuville round out the top ten, the latter classified under the Rally 2 regulations, after rolling his DS3 WRC car in the previous test.
In the PWRC, Nicolas Fuchs is top dog, 5.9 seconds up on Michal Kosciuszko. Benito Guerra is third in the Production class.
In terms of retirements, in addition to Neuville, day one took its toll on the field, claiming a number of scalps. The most noticeable was early leader, Petter Solberg, who broke a steering arm in SS4. Solberg should re-start on Saturday, although now he is down in eleventh, over 14 minutes adrift.
M-Sport Ford duo Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov also ran into trouble. Novikov went out in SS3 with right-rear wheel damage, while Tanak went off the road in SS4 and was unable to continue.
“We had a half spin in a very slow and narrow section on SS4," Tanak explained. "We become stuck on the side of the road, and with no spectators around, it was impossible to move the car. There was no damage, so we will restart tomorrow. This has been a very disappointing day, but there is still a long way to go. Now we just need to keep our concentration and focus on getting as much experience from the rest of the stages as we can.”
Rally Argentina now resumes on Saturday, with seven stages on the bill, totalling 166.54 competitive kilometres. SS7, San Agustin-Santa Rosa 1, is due to start at 08.30 hours local time [12.30 hours UK time].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 20mins 30.6secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 00.1secs M
3. Dani Sordo Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 33.1secs M
4. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 18.4secs M
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +05mins 16.9secs M
6. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 24.2secs
7. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 36.0secs
8. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 58.8secs
9. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +08mins 14.5secs
10. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +10mins 13.2secs M*
11. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +14mins 24.2secs M*
12. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +16mins 26.8secs P
13. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +16mins 32.7secs P
14. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +17mins 04.7secs
15. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +17mins 12.9secs P
16. Eliseo Salazar MINI John Cooper Works WRC +18mins 09.8secs
18. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +19mins 57.6secs M*
20. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +23mins 22.5secs*
* assumes runners will re-join under Rally 2
PWRC standings after Stage 6 – Top 3:
1. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2hours 36mins 57.9secs P
2. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 05.9secs P
3. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 46.1secs 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
all times unofficial