for Rally Argentina leaderboard after Day 2
Hyundai's Hayden Paddon will go into the final day of Rally Argentina with a 29.8sec lead over Sebastien Ogier, both moving up after Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out in SS14.
Paddon was quickest in the opening two stages this morning to move back to second and to close to within 6.7secs of Latvala.
Latvala, however, responded in SS12, setting the pace to go into the mid-day service with his overnight lead up from 7.9sec to 13.3secs.
Latvala was then fastest again in SS13, eking out 1.2secs on Paddon, before crashing out
in the penultimate test of the day when he went off the road 21 kilometres into the long 38.68km Los Gigantes-Cantera El Condor 2 test. Latvala and co-driver Miikka Anttila both escaped unharmed.
With Latvala out, Paddon completed SS14 with a 34.3sec advantage over Ogier, and while the Kiwi conceded 4.5secs to the Frenchman in SS15, he remains top and well placed to take his maiden WRC win.
“A long way and some tough stages still to go. Thirty seconds to the world champion isn't a whole lot,” Paddon told the official WRC site. “Looking at today, performance wise there's definitely room for more improvement, but my consistency across the stages has been good.”
Speaking back in service, Paddon added: “To finish the day leading the rally is unexpected but it certainly changes things for the final day!
“We started this morning with some good stages that I really enjoyed and we were getting good performance out of the New Generation i20 WRC. We just wanted to keep the pressure on and to stay in touching distance. Consistency has really been the key.
“We took on a mix of tyres for the afternoon loop with hard on the front and soft on the rear. It was a compromise and I struggled a bit at times with the balance.
“We know tomorrow will be tough - and Seb will push - so we have to be sensible and just do the best we can. We'll definitely be doing our homework tonight!”
Meanwhile, Ogier lost significant time this morning running first and sweeping the road for those behind, but was less handicapped on the repeat loop, going second quickest in SS13 and SS15 and third in SS14.
“The plan tomorrow?” Ogier said. “To go home. I have fought hard all weekend. Sometimes it's hard for people to see that. It's been too long with this disadvantage.”
“Tomorrow's 'Mina Clavero' stage is definitely the hardest stage of the Rally Argentina, if not the entire world championship,” he continued. “The conditions are extremely tough for the car and the tyres. That is not the moment to risk everything. Especially as Hayden Paddon has done a good job so far, and it would not usually be possible to make up 30 seconds. My priority is to secure second place.”
Behind, VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen completes the top-three, 14.5secs off Ogier, and 17.7secs up on Hyundai's Dani Sordo in fourth.
“It's been a tough day and I feel very sorry for Jari-Matti,” Mikkelsen said. “We've just been controlling our pace, that was always our strategy, and I think we've done that well.”
“It's been a pretty good day and we can be pleased to start tomorrow from fourth place overall,” Sordo added. “We have had a nice time on today's stages and had a good feeling.
“This morning, the car worked well and we were able to reduce the gap to Andreas. Our tyre choice in the afternoon made it difficult at times to keep the car in the middle of the road but at other times it worked well. Normally I am happy to take risks but we have just tried to stay in contact because tomorrow is going to be a hard day. I am happy for the team that we are able to show good pace; it's rewarding for everyone and we'll do all we can to keep this momentum tomorrow.”
Next up, M-Sport's Mads Ostberg holds fifth, now a massive 2mins 44.2secs off Sordo, with local star Marcos Liagto sixth, 4mins 26.9secs further adrift.
“This morning we were pushing really hard but we didn't select the fastest tyre choice for the second pass,” Ostberg said. “We were on the limit this morning but I haven't pushed to the same extent this afternoon as the risk was too high. We managed to get through the stages with no issues and that is the most important thing for the moment.”
Henning Solberg and Thierry Neuville tie for P7, just 4.8secs off Liagto, while Eric Camilli is ninth.
“We've had a better day today and it was good to show a more representative pace,” Neuville stated. “After the difficulties we had on the first day, we had to re-evaluate our approach. We knew that anything could happen at the front, so we just kept concentrated and focusing on completing each stage.
“We had a decent morning loop and we used that as an opportunity to build up a good rhythm. We were determined to make some progress in the overall classification and we've managed to do that. We're on the edge of the top-six so that's got to be our aim for Sunday and to pick up some very important points for the team.”
Latvala provisionally rounds-out the top-ten, but that assumes he will be able to re-start on Sunday under Rally 2.
In WRC2, Nicolas Fuchs is back on top – and 11th overall - after Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari rolled his Fabia R5 in SS13. Al-Kuwari lost over 10 minutes, but was able to continue and is now third in class. Hubert Ptaszek lies second, 3mins 26.4secs off Fuchs – and 6min 43.9secs up on Al-Kuwari.
Rally Argentina now concludes on Sunday with three stages on the bill, totalling 55.28 competitive kilometres. SS16, the first-run through the 16.32km El Condor-Copina test is due to start tomorrow at 09.08 hours local time [13.08 hours UK time].