6 May 2007
Argentina - leg 3: Loeb takes hat-trick.
Citroen number one driver, Sebastien Loeb secured the win on the 'abridged' Rally Argentina on Sunday, after another dominant performance in his C4 WRC.
Loeb led practically from start-to-finish, although proceedings only got underway 'proper' on Saturday, after all the transport problems on Friday, which practically wiped out the first leg and left a number of drivers' and personnel stranded in Buenos Aires following the Thursday night super special.
All-in-all competitors' only completed one super special on Friday, much to the frustration of all involved. Furthermore while an extra test was added to the line-up on Sunday, to ensure the rally completed the required two-thirds distance to award full points, it was still around 100 kilometres shorter than planned.
While Mikko Hirvonen took both super specials though, Seb soon asserted himself on Saturday and on the first 'real' test he immediately took the lead. He then proceeded to build up a good cushion and thanks to five stage wins in succession he returned to the mid-day service with a 15.4 second lead.
The Frenchman then added two more stages wins to his tally in the afternoon to end the day just under 20 seconds up on Marcus Gronholm. On the final day, Seb pulled further ahead, taking another three stage wins in the process. He eventually finished the event 36.7 seconds in front.
It was the third time on the trot he has won in Argentina and it was also his third win in a row this season, as he triumphed in Portugal and Mexico too, the previous two events. The victory increases his advantage at the top of the drivers' championship, from 1 point to 3.
Gronholm meanwhile just didn't seem to have an answer to Seb's speed and while it appeared as if he might be able to strike back on the final day, given that he kept in touch with Loeb on the second loop on Saturday, in the end that was not the case.
Mikko Hirvonen took the final place on the podium in the second BP Ford Focus, more than 2 minutes off Loeb. Mikko had no real problems, but just conceded at the end of Saturday that he couldn't set the same sort of pace as Seb and Marcus.
Next up was Jari-Matti Latvala, who set some pretty solid times in his Stobart Ford Focus. The Finn managed ten top six times from a possible 16 and he was rewarded with a very good fourth place - 27.1 seconds up on his team-mate, Henning Solberg, who was fifth in the sister car.
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