WRC Rally Argentina: Kris Meeke extends lead

Kris Meeke completes SS5 of Rally Argentina with a 53.1s lead over Jari-Matti Latvala; Mads Ostberg is third, 18.6s further back after a day of high drama, which claimed four major scalps, including Sebastien Ogier...
Britain's Kris Meeke has increased his lead on Rally Argentina, winning both stages on Friday afternoon, while nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala reported gearbox issues in SS5.

Meeke began the repeat loop with a 15.3s cushion, but the quickest time again in the long 51.99km Agua de Oro-Asochinga test, saw him almost double it to 28.7s.

He then proceeded to notch up another stage win in the 19.71 km Villa Bustos-Tanti 2 test and with Latvala only sixth, gained further ground.

The Citroen man will now take a 53.1 advantage into the leg 1 closing short 6.04 km Super Especial Fernet Branca.

“It wasn't the intention [to win SS4] - I just wanted to be clean,” Meeke told the official WRC site. “The car is good and strong.

“The road was hellish rough but I was in a good rhythm and the car just danced through. I'm driving my own rally.”

Asked about taking that first win, Meeke replied: “Anywhere in the top five here would be good.”

“I just need to get my confidence back,” added the Ulsterman, who has had a tricky start to the 2015 WRC season, with three crashes in as many events.

Meanwhile, Latvala - after closing to within 15.3s of Meeke this morning when the Ulsterman had a puncture in SS3 - was unable to cut the gap in SS4 and then gearbox issues in SS5 left him 24.4s off the pace.

“We have a problem with the gearbox,” confirmed the Volkswagen driver. “It is not the selection, it is the drive from the front diff.”

Behind, Mads Ostberg closed back up on second in Villa Bustos-Tanti 2 and now lies 18.6s back, leaving Latvala very much in a DS 3 sandwich.

Dani Sordo holds fourth and with the power steering on his Hyundai i20 WRC fixed, the Spaniard was fourth in SS4 and fifth in SS5 to jump back up the leaderboard, although M-Sport's Elfyn Evans is only 1.4s back in P5.

Ford privateer Martin Prokop is a lonely sixth, losing time in the final 'proper' test of the day after breaking an anti-roll bar in SS4.

Despite losing over 4 minutes in SS2 after stopping to change a puncture, Hyundai team leader Thierry Neuville finds himself seventh, such has been the attrition of the event.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier was the first major retiree on Friday, stopping 5-6 km from the end of SS2 due to technical problem.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon then joined him on the sidelines this afternoon, neither making it to the start of SS4, while Ott Tanak did start Agua de Oro-Asochinga 2, but went out just 2km in when he hit a rock in a water splash and lost the front-left wheel.

Of the rest, Khalid Al Qassimi is eighth ahead WRC2 class leader, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and his closest rival, Yuriy Protasov in ninth and tenth, split by 1m 36.3s.

Protasov had been ahead, but picked up 3m 10s of penalties after he was late into the mid-day service - a result of his problems at the end of SS3, he completed it with no right-rear wheel and hub and had to make a temporary fix before he could limp back to Carlos Paz.

The leg now concludes, as mentioned with the Super Especial Fernet Branca, scheduled to start at 17.08 hours local time [21.08 hours UK time]. Full itinerary for event available - HERE.

2015 Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):

1. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 1h 39m 43.4s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 53.1s M
3. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +1m 11.7s M
4. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +1m 57.6s M
5. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 59.0s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 24.3s M
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +5m 07.7s M
8. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +5m 35.1s
9. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +6m 34.6s WRC2
10. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 10.9s WRC2


11. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +9m 16.6s WRC2
12. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen DS3 R5 +9m 36.0s WRC2
13. Gustavo Saba Skoda Fabia S2000 +10m 15.7s
14. Federico Villagra Ford Fiesta MR +11m 29.0s

WRC2 standings after Stage 5 (Top 3):

1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 1h 46m 18.0s WRC2
2. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +1m 36.3s WRC2
3. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +2m 42.0s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Technical M*
SS2. Lorenzo Bertelli Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped M
SS3/4. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC Technical M*
SS3/4. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC Technical M*
SS4. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Lost a wheel M*

M denotes Manufacturer entry
*denotes expected to re-start on Saturday under Rally 2

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.