Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala holds the lead on Rally Argentina at the conclusion of Friday's four stages, which claimed five works drivers.

Latvala took the lead in SS3, when he was 10.3 seconds up on his team-mate and early leader, Sebastien Ogier. On the repeat loop this afternoon, Latvala initially dropped back to second, when he was 3.8 seconds slower in Santa Catalina-La Pampa 2 (SS4). However, just like in the morning, the Finn proved better through the 51.88 km Ascochinga-Agua de Oro test, completing it 18.2 seconds up on Ogier. Latvala will now take a 17.7 second advantage into Saturday's second full day of competition.

"We had a really good feeling [in that last stage] and Miikka [Anttila - my co-driver] did an absolutely perfect job," Latvala stated.

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"Thanks also to Michelin for the advice on the tyres. Malcolm [Wilson - M-Sport head and my old boss] used to say you have to enjoy it - and I did there. [It was] better not to know what the tyres are like, just drive!"

"The day went well for us, particularly on the 50-kilometre plus stage," Latvala added back in service. "I felt right at home in my Polo and could really enjoy the route. The setbacks that other teams have suffered only go to show just how difficult the rally is this year. Today it was very similar to the 'Acropolis', where it is not only important to be quick, but also only to push yourself to the limit when the route really allows it. It is obviously good to lead the Rally Argentina overnight, but there is still a long way to go before we reach the finish. We will continue to focus on our job and do our best."

Ogier in contrast was not happy with his performance in the final test of the day: "My rear tyre was moving a lot," he told the official WRC site. "The line was bad..."

Speaking in the end of day service, however, he was far more upbeat: "That was the tough start to the Rally Argentina we expected. However, I am very happy with my position after the opening day. We did a good job, particularly when you see how many of our rivals have fallen by the wayside.

"I had a few problems with grip on the final special stage of the day. All in all, however, the day was problem-free. The Polo R WRC is on good form and reliable, despite some brutal conditions. I am not worried about the 17-second gap to Jari-Matti. I am optimistic we can make that up on Saturday. Only one thing counts here for Julien [Ingrassia] and me: we want to win the Rally Argentina!"

Citroen's Kris Meeke meanwhile now holds third, benefitting from the demise of Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville, both of whom had been ahead until the final test of the day. Mikkelsen was sidelined by technical issues in his Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC, but will re-start on Saturday under Rally 2. Neuville had to park up as well, with suspected engine problems to blame. Neuville's Hyundai team-mate, Dani Sordo also went out in SS5, but he was running further down after turbo problems this morning.

Behind, M-Sport duo Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica are fourth and fifth respectively, both more than 2.5 minutes off P3, and split by just 0.2 seconds.

Martin Prokop rounds out the top six, with Mikkelsen and Neuville classified in seventh and eighth under Rally 2, ahead of WRC2 runners Nasser Al-Attiyah and Yuriy Protasov. Al-Attiyah is 2 minutes 45.2 seconds up on Protoasov.

Of the rest, in addition to the retirements of Mikkelsen, Neuville and Sordo in SS5, Friday's stages also claimed the scalps of two other works drivers - namely Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg, both crashing out in SS2 - the first proper test. Ostberg and Hirvonen are classified 18th and 19th overnight, with Sordo ahead in 17th.

Rally Argentina now continues on Saturday, with competitors facing five more stages and over 160 competitive kilometres.

SS6, the 39.99 km San Agustin-Villa del Dique 1 test, is due to start at 08.33 hours local time [12.33 hours UK time].

Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1hour 57m 36.3s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 17.7s M
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 07.4s M
4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 48.1s M
5. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03m 48.3s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 12.2s M
7. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +05m 19.9s M**
8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +05m 36.2s M**
9. Nasser Al-Attiyah Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta RRC +05m 36.8s WRC2
10. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +11m 43.0s WRC2

Others

11. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +10m 36.5s WRC2
12. Gustavo Saba Skoda Fabia S2000 +11m 43.0s WRC2
13. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC +12m 59.3s WRC2
14. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 +14m 14.7s WRC2
15. Miguel Zaldivar Ford Fiesta R5 +14m 43.2s WRC2
17. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +19m 31.8s M**
18. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +19m 52.2s M**
19. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +19m 53.3s M**

**assumes will re-start under Rally 2

WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta RRC 2hrs 03m 13.1s WRC2
2. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 45.2s WRC2
3. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +04m 59.7s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS2. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Hit a wall M#
SS2. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Hit a rock and lost a wheel M#
SS2. Ott Tanak Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta R5 Crashed WRC2
SS5. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Engine M#
SS5. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC Engine M#
SS5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Technical M*

*will re-start on Saturday under Rally 2
# denotes Saturday re-start under Rally 2 still to be confirmed

all times unofficial