Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier leads Rally Argentina after setting the pace in the Parque Tematico super special this afternoon.

Ogier went head-to-head with Mads Ostberg, beating the Norwegian by 3 seconds. All drivers did two laps of the short super special, which was located on the outskirts of Carlos Paz. Crews now heads back to parc ferme with the 'real' action - and over 155 competitive kilometres - coming up on Friday.

"My drive was okay, but the set-up was a bit stiff. I've driven this one better in the past," Ogier told the official WRC site.

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Speaking back in service, he added: "Four weeks without a rally is too long for a rally driver, so I am very pleased to be here in Argentina. The rally will be very demanding, that much is certain. The rain they have had here over the past few weeks has really eroded the route and made it brutal for the car and tyres. You need to be even more focussed than usual, particularly tomorrow morning, as the first two stages 'Santa Catalina' and 'Ascochingo' could decide who is going to be among the front-runners and who is not. However, Julien [Ingrassia - my co-driver] and I are ready and raring to take on the challenge."

Behind, Andreas Mikkelsen clocked the third best time in the VW Motorsport II Polo R WRC, followed by M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

"The first four kilometres today revealed little about what we can expect over the coming three days. However, we have definitely made a good start," Mikkelsen stated.

"Cleverness. That will be the keyword at this Rally Argentina," he continued. "We saw on the 'Recce' that the special stages have a completely different character to last season - even though over four fifths of the route are identical. There have been a lot of storms and poor weather in recent weeks. The stages have been seriously eroded, making them very tough on the material. This means you have to find the right balance, attack where you can attack, and ease off where necessary."

"The first stage was very spectacular for the fans, but just a short warm-up for us," Latvala continued. "The Rally Argentina only really gets going on Friday, and I expect it to be one of the toughest challenges so far. The recent rainfall has really worn away the roads, and some of the sections have been left with very coarse surfaces. Off the racing line you can now see even more stones and rocks, which you must avoid at all costs.

"Another challenge is the tyre selection: with temperatures rising, it is not simple to decide between the softer and harder compounds on the Michelin tyres. As such, you have all the ingredients for an exciting and thrilling rally."

Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo were next up in sixth and seventh, while Kris Meeke, Jari Ketomaa and Nicolas Fuchs completed the top ten. Former F1 winner Robert Kubica had to settle for 13th, one spot ahead of Britain's Elfyn Evans.

The event now continues on Friday, with just two stages on the bill, however, both are very long. SS2, the 27.09 km Santa Catalina test, is due to start at 09.08 hours local time [13.08 hours UK time]. The monster 51.88 km Ascochinga test, SS3, then follows at 09.51 hours local time [13.51 hours UK time] before the mid-day service and the second loop in the afternoon.

Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 4m 51.7s M
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 03.0s M
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 03.5s M
4. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 04.1s M
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 04.2s M
6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 05.4s M
7. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 07.2s M
8. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 09.3s M
9. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 09.5s WRC2
10. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 10.1s WRC2


11. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 10.6s WRC2
13. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 11.8s M
14. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 12.2s M
15. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 14.4s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 5m 01.2s WRC2
2. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 00.6s WRC2
3. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 01.1s WRC2

Notable retirements:


all times unofficial