“It was a day of highs and lows for us,” said Latvala. “In terms of speed, we were usually up there with the best today - like in the first and third stages. I was a bit too fast at one point in the second stage and hit a stone. I was lucky and was able to keep going, but my handbrake stopped working afterwards which is important because we use it to throw the car around hairpin bends. On top of that, the tyres were really starting to flag at the end of that stage. Once my crew had done a great job of servicing the car, everything went according to plan again, but the handbrake played up again in the fourth stage [of the day, SS5]. I lost a bit of time on the hairpin bends. I could have made more of today, so I'm not 100 per cent happy.”
Evgeny Novikov rounds out the top five in his Qatar M-Sport WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC, almost a minute further back, followed by VW third driver, Andreas Mikkelsen and fellow Qatar runner Thierry Neuville.
“Running first on the road was okay for me,” said Novikov. “I took five soft tyres this afternoon and that worked well and also puts us in a better position for later in the rally. When the conditions are a little trickier like they were this afternoon, I really enjoy it. We kept the same rhythm as we did in the morning, but the times were better which was good. I'm first of the Fords now which is not so bad. Okay, fifth place isn't where we want to be, but there is a long way to go and as we have seen a lot can still happen. Let's wait and see.”
“Hazy weather and fog in the morning twinned with four extremely long, physically challenging special stages – the Rally Argentina didn't make things particularly easy for us today,” added Mikkelsen. “High levels of humidity and soaring temperatures in the cockpit demanded absolute fitness. We worked on our communication today and tried out our new pace notes for the first time. Everything is moving in the right direction: our times are getting better and I feel more comfortable in the Polo R WRC with every metre. We're delighted with our placing too – we'd love to keep it up over the next two days, of course.”
Martin Prokop holds eighth, even though he had a 'big moment' in SS5 and rolled his Fiesta RS WRC car in a slow corner, with Gabriel Pozzo and Dani Sordo ninth and tenth respectively. Pozzo lost his power steering in SS5, while Sordo picked up a 50 second time penalty when he was late out of the mid-day service. The Spaniard had rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC car in SS3 and the repairs took longer than the allocated time.
“I wasn't comfortable on SS2, which I thought was very slippery. But it was much better on the next stage. Unfortunately, there was a problem with Carlos [del Barrio]'s door. It affected his concentration and he didn't give me the right pace note. It's really disappointing, but that's life. We are still in the rally and we will keep going to try and secure the best possible result,” Sordo stated.
A number of other runners also had problems, most noticeably Mads Ostberg. Ostberg had been running fifth overall, but broke a steering arm in SS4. He is provisionally classified 11th overnight and is expected to be able to re-join under the Rally 2 rules on Friday. Daniel Oliveira also stopped in SS4 after losing a front wheel, while Michal Kosciuszko pulled over in SS5.
In WRC2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari has over a 4 minute lead in his Ford Fiesta RRC. Yuriy Protasov is second and Ricardo Trivino third.
Rally Argentina now continues on Friday, with two loops of two stages on the bill, before runners then tackle the 6.04 km super special stage again that kicked off things on Wednesday afternoon.
SS6, the 40.69 km Santa Rosa/Villa del Dique 1, is due to start on Friday at 08.33 hours local time [12.33 hours UK time].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hour 57mins 14.1secs
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +16.3s
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +18.1s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +40.7s
5. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 37.7s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +1m 55.1s
7. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 12.5s
8. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6m 41.4s
9. Gabriel Pozzo
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 10.3s
10. Dani Sordo
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +10m 32.6s
11. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 33.2s
12. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Ford Fiesta RRC +12m 50.9s
13. Daniel Oliveira
Stohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14m 14.2s
14. Michal Kosciuszko
Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +14m 48.3s
15. Yuriy Protasov
Subaru Impreza STi R4 +17m 20.7s
16. Ricardo Trivino
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +18m 11.2s
*assumes will re-start on Friday under Rally 2
WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):
1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Ford Fiesta RRC 2hr 10m 05.0s
2. Yuriy Protasov
Subaru Impreza STi R4 +4m 29.8s
3. Ricardo Trivino
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +5m 20.3s
SS4. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Broken steering arm
SS4. Daniel Oliveira
Stohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC Lost front wheel
SS5. Michal Kosciuszko
Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC Stopped in stage
all times unofficial