Citroen ace Sebastien Ogier has finished day two of Rally Argentina in a commanding position after Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg both hit problems.

Ogier, who had gone into the mid-day service 17.8 seconds off P1, put in a charge this afternoon and he was rewarded with the fastest time on the repeat-run through Las Jarillas-Falda del Carmen [SS12], cutting Latvala's cushion to 10.6 seconds. The Frenchman then took another stage win in SS13 and with Latvala slowed by suspension issues, seized the initiative.

Ogier eventually ended the day with a 43.7 second advantage, his position further bolstered after Petter Solberg lost around 50 seconds in the final test of the leg [SS15] due to a power steering failure.

"Even if I didn't know today's stages I felt confident as I liked their profile. I took advantage of them to push hard and race incidents played in our favour," Ogier said. "On paper, we've got a big lead. We'll have to remain concentrated right until the end and we know that the race isn't won until we're back in the parc ferm?."

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile now finds himself bumped up to second, although he has a battle on his hands to hold off the recovering Sebastien Loeb. Loeb has been a man on a mission after incurring a one minute penalty on Friday and he is now just 4 seconds back in P3, having won five of the day's eight tests.

"We really got back into the battle today," Loeb noted. "The result's a lot more satisfactory than yesterday but we can still move up another place. Tomorrow we're starting with the aim of overtaking Mikko. We'll have to push hard in the long 48-km stage."

Solberg is fourth and he was gutted to lose so much time late on, especially as he had arguably still been in contention for the win after SS14, just 21.1 seconds off Ogier. He is now 1m 16.1s off P1 and 28.4s off the final place on the podium.

"Right now I'm just so disappointed," Solberg lamented. "Everything has been going so well, and we have been on the pace for two days, and then 2 km into to the final stage of the day we lose the power steering and a lot of time. It will be fixed for tomorrow, and I will do my best on all the four stages trying to get some of the lost time back."

Further back, Mads Ostberg completes the top five for the M-Sport Stobart Ford team, albeit over 3.5 minutes off fourth. Local man Federico Villagra is sixth, 57 seconds further down the road, while Britain's Matthew Wilson lies seventh, having lost time with a puncture in SS10.

"Everything has been okay today apart from the puncture. Basically, we ran a little wide on a left-hand corner and hit a sandy bank which knocked the tyre off the rim. It didn't cause us too much hassle initially but then we lost a lot of time during the last 3 km," Wilson explained. "It wasn't a major issue as we were carrying a spare but obviously it was annoying to be knocked down a place.

"The mix of gravel and asphalt was interesting - we found that we were ahead on the gravel sections of the stages and behind in the asphalt because it was so messy with lots of stones dragged onto the road. There's four stages tomorrow but there's one very big stage that's about 48 km where anything could happen - hopefully I can still be in a battle with Federico for sixth place, I'm sure the long stage will be the decider."

Latvala is classified eighth even though he was forced out after a front left suspension link broke near the end of SS13. He lost 20 seconds and the lead struggling to the finish. Although the Finn tried to make repairs in the following liaison section using straps to hold the link together, it failed shortly after the start of SS14. He will rejoin under the SupeRally tomorrow.

"About 4km from the end I noticed that in braking the car was pulling massively to the right," Latvala recalled. "It was OK in corners and when accelerating but not under braking, so I had to ease off until the finish. We jacked up the car and found the suspension link was broken. We tried to repair it by taking a link from the rear of the car but it was too long so we used straps to try to hold it together.

"Unfortunately the repairs lasted only 4km into the next stage. I think that I must have hit a rock or the bedrock in a rut earlier in the stage which damaged the link, and it broke later in the test."

PWRC front runners Hayden Paddon and Patrik Flodin round out the top ten - the former eight minutes ahead and with the Production victory seemingly in the bag.

In terms of retirements, in addition to Latvala, Monster Ford WRT man Ken Block went out in SS11 due to a broken front driveshaft. He had been running ninth. He will re-join tomorrow in 15th.

The action now concludes on Sunday with 59.03 competitive kilometres on the bill - and four separate stages. The event has a 'sting in the tail' however, as the first test is the monster 48.21 kilometre-run through Ascochinga-Agua de Oro - the longest stage of the event - and that could yet shake things up. It is due to start at 08.09 hours local time [12.09 hours UK time].

Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien OgierCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC3hours 20mins 05.8secs M
2. Mikko HirvonenFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 43.7secs M
3. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+00mins 47.7secs M
4. Petter SolbergPSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC+01mins 16.1secs M
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+04mins 55.9secs M
6. Federico VillagraMunchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC+05mins 52.9secs M
7. Matthew WilsonM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+07mins 00.3secs M
8. Jari-Matti LatvalaFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+12mins 12.6secs M#
9. Hayden PaddonSubaru Impreza STi+21mins 58.3secs P
10. Patrik FlodinSubaru Impreza STi+29mins 58.3secs P


11. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X+30mins 18.5secs P
12. Dmitriy TagirovSubaru Impreza STi+32mins 45.0secs P
15. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+37mins 21.7secs M#

PWRC standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):

1. Hayden PaddonSubaru Impreza STi3hours 42mins 04.1secs P
2. Patrik FlodinSubaru Impreza STi+08mins 00.0secs P
3. Michal Kosciuszko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X+08mins 20.2secs P

Notable retirements:

SS5/SS6. Peter van Merksteijn Jr Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRCTurbo M
SS8. Daniel OliveiraBrazil WRT Mini John Cooper WorksWent off the road M
SS11. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCMechanical M#
SS14. Jari-Matti LatvalaFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRCSuspension M#

# SupeRally runner.

all times unofficial



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