Argentina: Friday midday round-up
Loeb takes lead as Ogier slides off road
Sebastien Loeb leads Rally Argentina after an error from Sebastien Ogier this morning cost the Frenchman more than 40 seconds and dropped him to third.
Heavy overnight rain made conditions muddy and foggy and Ogier, who had won five of the six stages in his Volkswagen Polo R, went off the road in the 39.16km stage from Amboy to Yacanto. He went straight on at a slippery corner and had to reverse back onto the track.
Ironically, Loeb made a similar error on the previous Santa Rosa to Villa del Dique stage. His Citroen DS3 slid wide on a corner at the end of a long straight but his time loss was merely a handful of seconds.
The drama means Loeb returned to the mid-leg service at Carlos Paz with a 8.9 second advantage over team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. Ogier is 26.3 seconds off the lead.
Jari-Matti Latvala lies fourth in another Polo R, 44.8sec behind Loeb, with Evgeny Novikov quietly keeping out of trouble in fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS. The Russian is 1min 55.4sec from the lead.
Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville are dueling for sixth. The German holds the upper hand in his Polo R, but his margin over Neuville’s Fiesta RS is only 7.0sec. Almost seven minutes further back in eighth is Martin Prokop, recovering from yesterday’s roll.
The top 10 is rounded off by Mads Ostberg, who was fastest though the Amboy test, and Dani Sordo, who has struggled with a misfiring engine after his Citroen DS3 took in water at the famous Santa Rosa river crossing.
In the WRC 2 category, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari stretched his lead to 8min 49.6sec in a Ford Fiesta RRC. Nicolas Fuchs regained second in his Mitsubishi Lancer following the retirements of both Yuriy Protasov and Ricardo Trivino early in the opening stage.
Protasov was sidelined by an electrical problem with his Subaru Impreza’s throttle, while a broken differential stopped Trivino.
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