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WRC Rally Argentina 2013: Loeb takes lead, Ogier suffers off
3 May 2013
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb now heads the pack on Rally Argentina, after overnight leader, Sebastien Ogier went off in SS7 and lost more than 40 seconds.
Loeb began the second leg 16.3 seconds adrift of his former team-mate, and in the opening stage, which was very wet and muddy, following overnight rain, he conceded another 1.4 seconds after a mistake near the end.
The nine WRC champion also ran wide in the next test too, but Ogier had bigger issues and about halfway through he went straight on at a corner, losing more than 40 seconds.
“We went straight on at a long corner,” Ogier confirmed to WRC Live. “The road tightened but we understeered on to mud and had to reverse out. The handbrake didn't work again to save me.”
Loeb thus moves up into P1 and heads back for the mid-day service with an 8.9 second advantage over team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in second. Ogier is now third, 17.4 seconds further back in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC.
“I went wide [in SS7] like I did on the earlier stage [SS6] but this time it cost me only about one second,” Loeb remarked. "It's tricky - very fast, the grip is good then suddenly it's gone.”
Hirvonen also admitted to having had a few close shaves: “The start [of SS6] was really good but [then] I had a couple of moments on muddy corners and watersplashes and lost time,” the Finn reported. "I also went off [in SS7] and hit a rock with the right-hand rear wheel. There was a strange sound but we were lucky, I don't think it cost us too much...”
Behind, Jari-Matti Latvala is fourth and said he was taking it cautiously, given the mud and fog.
Evgeny Novikov lies in a distant fifth for the Qatar M-Sport WRT, almost two minutes off the lead and over a minute off Latvala.
“There was quite a lot of fog this morning and in some corners it was a bit damp, but generally it was OK," said Novikov. "I was not pushing 100 per cent, but we've got a really good rhythm at the moment so we'll just continue like that this afternoon. Of course I'm always looking to be higher [in the overall standings] than fifth, but I think that we have done a good job this morning.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Thierry Neuville and Martin Prokop hold positions 6 through to 8, with Mads Ostberg ninth having re-joined this morning under the Rally 2 regulations.
“This morning has been good. The feeling after [midday] service yesterday was really good. We made some changes to the car and it worked really well. We left the car the same for today and it's working perfectly so I'm happy.
“The surface is a bit different today," said Ostberg. "There's a lot more sand so if the conditions had been like they were yesterday then there would have been a lot more mud and it might have been easier running first on the road. OK, the road position isn't bad – for sure it's not an advantage, but I wouldn't say that it was a huge disadvantage either. On driving alone, realistically, I think we can only climb to eighth place. We're in ninth at the moment, so hopefully we can gain another position this afternoon.”
Dani Sordo rounds out the top-ten, although he lost more time when his engine dropped to three cylinders in SS6 after one of the water splashes.
In WRC2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari has extended his comfortable lead in his Ford Fiesta RRC, as both Yuriy Protasov and Ricardo Trivino, second and third overnight, stopped in the first test of the day. Nicolas Fuchs is now second, more than 8 minutes back, with Armin Kremer third.
In terms of retirements, Michal Kosciuszko re-joined this morning in his Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC, but he had to stop again in SS6, the first test of the day, due to suspension damage.
Rally Argentina now continues with repeat runs through this morning's two tests, before the leg concludes with a second run through the 6.04 km super special (the same test that kicked off the action on Wednesday).
SS8, the 40.69 km Santa Rosa-Villa del Dique 2, is due to start at 14.59 hours local time [18.59 hours UK time - 4 hours time difference].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 7 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 42mins 58.1secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +08.9s M
3. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +26.3secs M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +44.8s M
5. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 55.4s M
6. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +2m 34.1s T
7. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 41.1s T
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9m 23.9s T
9. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 21.7s M*
10. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +12m 03.3s M
11. Gabriel Pozzo Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12m 14.4s T
12. Daniel Oliveira Stohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC +18m 40.1s*
13. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +19m 05.2s WRC2
14. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +24m 30.1s T*
15. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +27m 54.8s WRC2
16. Gustavo Saba Skoda Fabia S2000 +30m 06.1s
17. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza WRX STi +30m 14.6s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 7 (Top 3):
1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 3hr 02m 03.3s WRC2
2. Nicolas Fuchs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +8m 49.6s WRC2
3. Armin Kremer Subaru Impreza WRX STi +11m 09.4s WRC2
SS4. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Broken steering arm M*
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 T*
SS6. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC Suspension T
*denotes re-started under Rally 2 regulations
all times unofficial