28 March 2008
Argentina - day 1: Loeb assumes lead.
Petter was also reasonably pleased, even if a broken front shock absorber slowed him in the afternoon: "We had some problems today, like everyone else, but we are in third place so it's not bad at all. I didn't feel comfortable in the conditions on the last loop of stages today and we lost a lot of time, but we will make some more changes tonight and then keep pushing hard tomorrow,” he added.
Next up and also very much in touch with the battling Subarus is Stobart Ford man Gigi Galli. The Italian slipped behind Daniel Sordo after picking up a 20 second penalty in SS4, but put in a charge to get back in front in the afternoon, posting two second quickest times and taking a stage win in SS7.
Sordo remained in front though until SS8, when power steering problems left him 30 seconds off the pace and dropped him to P5. He subsequently finished day one 19.2 seconds back, but hasn't given up on getting into the top three.
Further down the order Federico Villagra is sixth for the Munchi's team, albeit more than 2.5 minutes off Sordo, while fellow Ford runners Matthew Wilson and Jari-Matti Latvala complete the points' scorers.
Latvala would have been a lot higher up if he hadn't made an error in SS2 and rolled his Focus. That cost him 9 minutes and dropped him from second to 30th. He soon bounced back though, setting the pace in SS3, SS6 and SS9 to haul himself back into the points.
"I've been happy with my speed, I just need to get rid of my mistakes," admitted the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT driver.
Of the rest Conrad Rautenbach is ninth in his privately entered PH-Sport-run Citroen C4 WRC, while Andreas Aigner rounds out the top ten and is also on course for the Production WRC win.
The Austrian is over 1.5 minutes up on Marcos Ligato, while Sebastian Beltran completes the PWRC rostrum, followed by Fumio Nutahara and Nasser Al-Attiyah.
A number of drivers' had problems today and five 'works' cars failed to get to the end. In addition to Hirvonen, who was mentioned earlier, Henning Solberg also went out in SS5 after hitting a rock and damaging the suspension on his Focus.
Toni Gardemeister joined them on the sidelines in SS8, again after hitting a rock, while Luis Perez Companc also went out in that test after sliding off the road and getting stuck in a ditch.
The only other works casualty was Per-Gunnar Andersson. Unfortunately for the Swede and Suzuki he was the forced out en-route to SS1 with an engine sensor problem.
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