WRC Rally results: Argentine glory for Loeb, Citroën and Michelin
A 70th world class win for Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena sees them maintain an unbeaten record in Argentina which dates back to 2004. Mikko Hirvonen made it a one-two finish for Citroën/Michelin, while Dani Sordo (Ford/Michelin) was third… until the very last stage
In a remake of last month’s visit to Portugal, the Philips Rally Argentina took place in poor, unstable weather which made the conditions wet and muddy in many places, or simply damp elsewhere. Michelin’s drivers were consequently forced to choose carefully between the soft-compound Latitude Cross ‘S1’ tyre and the harder ‘H1’ alternative as a function of the quantity of each one at their disposal for the South American round (10 and 40 respectively).
Again as in Portugal, Ford/Michelin’s Petter Solberg led early on before breaking a steering rod on SS4. Mikko Hirvonen then figured briefly at the top of the leaderboard before being passed by his team-mate Sébastien Loeb on the long SS5 (51.8km).
The Frenchman, who has gone unbeaten in Argentina since 2004, profited from Saturday’s first three stages to consolidate his lead, while Dani Sordo, who stepped in at short notice to replace Latvala at Ford, lost ground to the Citroën DS3 WRC/Michelin pair. At the lunchtime service halt, Citroën requested its two drivers to hold position until the finish.
Petter Solberg, who was able to re-join the event under the ‘Rally2’ ruling, focused on salvaging as many championship points as possible. The Norwegian went on to take several more stage wins – including Sunday morning’s interminable Matadero test (65.74 km) – to secure sixth place at the finish. He also pocketed the three Power Stage bonus points.
Dani Sordo was running a seemingly safe third until his Ford Fiesta RS WRC came to a halt (alternator) on the weekend’s very last stage! After taking a surprise win in Portugal, Mads Ostberg (Ford/Michelin) was happy to recuperate an unexpected podium finish which was helped by the Day 1 accidents of Tanak, Neuville and Novikov.
Spectators were kept on their toes by an enthralling battle between Skoda/Michelin’s Mikkelsen and Ogier until the former suffered suspension failure with the finish in sight. Ogier ended up seventh overall in his S2000 car.
The PWRC class saw Benito Guerra (Mitsubishi/Michelin) claim his second consecutive win. After a cautions start, the Mexican inherited first place when Nicolas Fuchs hit mechanical trouble shortly before the finish.