Argentina: Thursday midday round-up
Ogier and Hirvonen share stage victories
Sebastien Ogier returned to service in Carlos Paz at the midpoint of the opening leg of Rally Argentina with a 3.6sec lead in his Volkswagen Polo R over Mikko Hirvonen’s Citroen DS3.
They shared the stage wins this morning, Ogier claiming fastest time through the opening Santa Catalina / La Pampa test before Hirvonen won Ascochinga / Agua de Oro, the longest stage of the rally.
Ogier was frustrated at the end of SS3 having been held up by Dani Sordo in the stage, but the Frenchman was calmer when he arrived at service and explained what happened.
“Dani had a problem when he went off the road. Unfortunately he restarted in front of us and didn’t see us for three or four kilometres. We had to follow him and lost a couple of seconds. When he restarted it was at a tight hairpin and I thought he would see us, but that’s rally,” said Ogier.
Sebastien Loeb is just 6.0sec behind his fellow Frenchman in another DS3 and the leading trio are pulling clear of the drivers behind.
Jari-Matti Latvala lies fourth in another Polo R, 23.5sec from the lead and rueing his lack of experience of these stages having missed last year’s event through injury.
Mads Ostberg is fifth, the Norwegian feeling out of sorts with his Ford Fiesta RS, but only 9.7sec behind Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen completes the top six in the final Polo R, the Norwegian youngster 55.9sec from the lead.
In the WRC 2 category Abdulaziz Al Kuwari moved to the front when overnight leader Marcos Ligato stopped his Subaru 14km into the opening test, reportedly with a broken wheel.
The Qatari was fastest through both stages in his Ford Fiesta RRC and leads Peruvian Nicolas Fuchs’ Mitsubishi Lancer by 59.2sec. A furious Al Kuwari arrived at the finish of the opening stage right behind Yuriy Protasov, the man ahead of him in the running order, whom he caught mid-stage.
Ricardo Trivino lies third, 1min 13.3sec behind Fuchs, the Mexican struggling with overheating brakes.
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