The Citroën DS3 WRCs handily placed
Being first out on the road was handicapping
Between gravel and asphalt numerous incidents marked the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s first day on the Argentinean roads. After 160 timed kilometers, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are handily placed in third spot under thirty seconds behind the leader. Despite setting two fastest times, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were unable to do better than fifth due to their one-minute penalty.
The first day of Rally Argentina was based around its bestknown stages like Mina Clavero / Giulio Cesare and El Condor, and also included long sectors on asphalt It was a first in this event and the mixed conditions represented a real challenge in tyre management.
After setting the best time in the Carlos Paz super special on Thursday afternoon, Sébastien Loeb, the championship leader, was first out on the road today. The five-time winner of the event was on the pace on the very sandy roads during the first loop, until he was given one-minute penalty at the entrance to the first regrouping park for clocking in early.
“It wasn’t very clear. There were a lot of people at the time control and the check in sign wasn’t visible. Daniel handed in his time card at the exact time but we were still given a one-minute penalty. Now the gap is pretty big in the overall classification. I can’t say that it’s been a great day but we’ll continue to push. Our fastest time in the final stage shows that we can still get among the front-runners.”
Without letting up, and setting the fastest time in the final stage, the seven-time world champion finished the loop 1m30.3s behind the leader, Jari-Matti Latvala. “We had a good run without making any big mistakes,” Loeb insisted this evening “Being first out on the road was handicapping, above all in the second loop when sweeping was at its most important.”
Sébastien Ogier was third this morning and he was fighting at the front all day despite a puncture on the asphalt in the El Condor stage (SS4), and a spin in the afternoon (SS5). He finished the first day of the rally in third place 28.8s behind the leader, just behind another Citroën DS3 WRC driven by Petter Solberg.
“We were always on the pace even if we were not at our best on the asphalt,” said Ogier. “We had a puncture this morning and I think I was maybe a bit over-cautious this afternoon. We’re in a very good position for tomorrow. The second day is taking place on roads that suit me a lot better even if it’ll be my first time racing on them. I hope that sweeping will help us a little. I have to find a good feeling right from the start so that I can push. I know we can win.”
Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal added: “I know that Sébastien Ogier likes the stages on the second day. He’s going to push and he’s got every chance even if we know it’ll be complicated as he’s up against drivers who have much more experience in Argentina. We can expect a good scrap. I know Sébastien Loeb and I’m sure he’ll be able to get back into contention between now and Sunday afternoon. Everybody could be surprised. I think he can still fight for victory."
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