11 May 2014
Rally Argentina: Latvala closes on victory
Jari-Matti Latvala heads Sebastien Ogier by over 1.5 minutes after SS13; Kris Meeke remains on course for third, with Andreas Mikkelsen fourth and Thierry Neuville fifth...
Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala looks set to win Rally Argentina and with just one stage to go he has virtually tripled his overnight lead.
Latvala began the final leg with a 31.2 second advantage over team-mate Sebastien Ogier and despite thick fog, as well as lots of mud in El Condor-Copina 1, he outpaced the Frenchman in all three tests, going third in SS11 and second in both SS12 and SS13.
“It was very difficult at the beginning of that last stage. Luckily it was not so slippery and towards the end the grip was better than on the first pass,” Latvala said. “I had a really good feeling at the end, it was really nice. I was enjoying it.”
Ogier in contrast opted for a more cautious approach, 'only' going fourth in the first test of the day, sixth in SS12 and fifth in SS13: “I'm driving it a bit like a road section,” Ogier admitted after SS13.
Speaking after SS11, he noted: “I'm happy. I never push here. It's a lottery and I prefer to just get through. It's okay, you cannot win all the time and this proves you have to fight to win. I have no problem with Jari's position. Jari-Matti deserves it.”
Behind, Kris Meeke remains third in his Citroen DS3 WRC, 51.2 seconds up on VW Motorsport II man Andreas Mikkelsen, while Thierry Neuville is fourth for Hyundai and former Formula 1 driver, Robert Kubica holds sixth. Kubica has come under increased pressure from Elfyn Evans so far today, and after getting a wrong split time in SS11 eased off too much. He also hit a stone in SS13 and now lies just 5.1 seconds up on his M-Sport colleague.
Of the rest, Mikko Hirvonen is now up to ninth and on course for two points, having been quickest in all three stages, with WRC 2 class leader, Nasser Al-Attiyah completing the top ten.
As for retirements, Mads Ostberg had to concede defeat and withdraw after injuring his right hand on Saturday. He had been running in P11 post-SS12.
Rally Argentina now concludes with a repeat-run through the 16.32 km El Condor-Copina test. The Power Stage, SS14, is due to start at 13.05 hours local time [17.05 hours UK time].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 4hrs 26m 44.9s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +01m 37.5s M
3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +05m 03.3s M
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +05m 54.5s M
5. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +07m 32.1s M
6. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +09m 36.3s M
7. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +09m 41.4s M
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10m 59.1s M
9. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +19m 54.9s M
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta RRC +21m 30.0s WRC2
11. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +27m 32.7s WRC2
12. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC +27m 36.6s WRC2
13. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RRC +33m 59.7s WRC2
14. Gustavo Saba Skoda Fabia S2000 +45m 32.9s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Drive DMACK Ford Fiesta RRC 4hrs 48m 14.9s WRC2
2. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +06m 02.7s WRC2
3. Nicolas Fuchs Ford Fiesta RRC +06m 06.6s WRC2
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*
SS6/SS7. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC
SS13. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Withdrew - injury M
*denotes re-started on Saturday under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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