WRC Rally Argentina: Meeke continues to lead

Kris Meeke remains in P1 on Rally Argentina, although his lead over team-mate Mads Ostberg has been cut from 1m 8.4s to 32.6s
Britain's Kris Meeke continues to lead Rally Argentina following the opening loop on Saturday, although his advantage has been cut to 32.6 seconds.

Meeke began the second day with a 1 minute 8.4 second cushion, but a spin in the opening stage allowed Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg to close up, the Ulsterman losing 14.9s.

Meeke then opted to take it carefully through the day's long test – the 42.50 km San Marcos-Characato 1 stage – and conceded another 20 odd seconds, although he insisted he was “fine” with the loss and with another eighth quickest time.

“I took it very cautiously,” Meeke told the official WRC site. “For me, this [SS8] is the most difficult stage of the rally and on new pacenotes too.

“Okay, I gave away a bit of time but that's fine.”

Speaking after SS7 earlier on, Meeke added that his spin was due to the dust: “It was very, very dusty and I got mixed up on my braking. I spun off onto some grass and had to reverse to get back on.

“The stage was still good though.”

Meanwhile, Ostberg was fourth in the first test today and third in the second, despite not feeling 100%.

“I tried to give a little bit more [in SS8]. I didn't enjoy the second half much, though. I'm not feeling too well and I was looking at the trip [meter]. That's never a good sign,” said the Norwegian, who complained of a fever last night.

Jari-Matti Latvala remains third for Volkswagen, but an error in SS8 when he went off and hit a bank affected his confidence. Indeed he was only ninth quickest, almost 30 seconds off the pace.

“I went off in there,” he confirmed. “The car went onto the grass. I was very lucky not to hit a rock. After that I lost my rhythm.”

Dani Sordo lies fourth and a great time in San Marcos-Characato – he went second quickest, despite overshooting a junction – has allowed him to close on Latvala, the gap down from 36.8s to 14.1s.

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans rounds out the top five, 35.7s further back, with Ford privateer Martin Prokop sixth, but now only 11.8s up on Thierry Neuville's Hyundai.

“It's been a bit steady this morning,” Evans said. “We knew that today's stages were a lot narrower and a bit more technical. We felt it would be quite easy to make a mistake on these roads so we decided to be clean and stay in the middle of the road.

“Dani [Sordo] has gone very hard to be fair so the gap [to P4] is probably a bit too big [now]. We knew to maybe expect that to some extent as we are still very much in the learning phase, but regardless he really did do a great job this morning.”

Behind, Khalid Al Qassimi and WRC2 duo Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Diego Dominguez fill positions 8 through to 10.

Al-Kuwari has a very comfortable lead in WRC2, more than 3 minutes up on Dominguez. Stephane Lefebvre is third in WRC2, 20s further back.

Early WRC2 class leader Yuriy Protoasov has dropped out of contention after being hit with a 15 minute penalty.

The stewards ruled he broke two rules at the end of SS3 on Friday, by driving on three wheels on a road section for 1.45 km and for a safety breach (with co-driver Pavlo Cherepin running beside the car whilst leaning on the front bonnet to counterbalance the front left side).

Of the rest, Hayden Paddon, Ott Tanak, Andreas Mikkelsen, Sebastien Ogier and Lorenzo Bertelli all re-started under Rally 2 this morning , finishing the loop in 18th, 19th, 22nd, 25th and 26h respectively.

"It's been a really difficult morning after the disappointment yesterday," Tanak noted. "We just haven't got into the rhythm and on stages like these where the conditions are changing all the time it's hard to get back in to it.

"There are still some manufacturer points to be had, so we just need to ensure that we keep it clean and tidy and get to the end.”

Rally Argentina now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through this morning's two stages.

SS9, the 23.10km Capilla del Monte-San Marcos 2 test, is scheduled to start at 14.54 hours local time [18.54 hours UK time]. Full itinerary for event available - HERE.

2015 Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 8 (Top 10):

1. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2h 30m 25.3s M
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 32.6s M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 07.7s M
4. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +1m 21.8s M
5. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 57.5s M
6. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 35.9s M
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +4m 47.7s M
8. Khalid Al Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +8m 10.3s
9. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +10m 12.5s WRC2
10. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +13m 19.3s WRC2


11. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen DS3 R5 +13m 39.3s WRC2
12. Gustavo Saba Skoda Fabia S2000 +14m 36.3s
13. Marcos Ligato Chevrolet Agile MR +16m 14.9s
14. Federico Villagra Ford Fiesta MR +16m 22.9s
15. Alejandro Cancio Peugeot 207 MR +16m 38.5s
16. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +19m 44.4s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 8 (Top 3):

1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 2h 40m 37.8s WRC2
2. Diego Dominguez Ford Fiesta R5 +3m 06.8s WRC2
3. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen DS3 R5 +3m 26.8s 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 re-started on Saturday under Rally 2

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

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