Day 1: Thierry and Nicolas fight back to hold third in Argentina
It has been a tough start to our Rally Argentina but there were encouraging signs at the end of Friday. Our Belgian crew, Thierry and Nicolas, hold third position after the opening nine stages, just five seconds from second place.
Argentina is known for its punishing gravel terrain, but this years stages have proven to be some of the harshest yet. All three of our crews experienced difficulties on the opening morning, which hampered progress.
Our Team Principal Michel honestly summarised: We expected it to be rough but that was far more than wed anticipated!
It was always going to be a busy lunchtime service for our mechanics. However, incidents and issues during the opening three stages made life that bit harder.
We picked up some damage to the rear damper in the morning loop, said Thierry. The mechanics did an exceptional job over lunchtime to get all our teams cars ready for the afternoon.
Fresh from their Tour de Corse victory, our Belgians are looking for another strong result in Argentina. A stage win in the evening super special (SS9) retained third place overall and gave them a much-needed confidence boost for Saturdays stages.
Kiwi stage wins
Our Kiwi crew Hayden and John, who won in Argentina in 2016, have been searching for a breakthrough to their 2017 season. A roll on Fridays opening stage was not the start they had hoped for, but they too bounced back in style. A joint stage win with rally leader Elfyn Evans in SS7 was followed by an outright stage win in SS8.
Things definitely went better in the afternoon! said Hayden. It is good to take our first stage wins of the season, but we know this will be a rally of attrition so we have plenty still to fight for.
Anything can happen
Our Spaniards Dani and Marc picked up damage to their steering arm in the morning loop, which required a mid-stage fix and accrued over ten minutes of lost time.
It was really bad luck, rued Dani. We reached a fast right-hand corner in the second stage this morning and touched something on the inside. The result was a broken steering arm, which we had to stop and fix. We just lost so much time. Its hugely disappointing because I really enjoy this rally and the car felt quick.
The team worked incredibly professionally, concluded Michel. Lots can still happen in this rally. We have Thierry in a provisional podium position and all three cars still in the rally, so lets see what Saturday brings.
Saturdays itinerary will take in six stages, a repeat loop of three, covering a distance of 160km.
Overall Classification after Day One
1 E. Evans / D. Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:24:55.4
2 M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +55.7
3 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:00.7
4 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:06.7
5 O. Tanak / M. Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:11.3
6 J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:29.9
7 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +3:41.8
8 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:13.9
9 J. Hänninen / K. Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:48.6
10 P. Tidemand / J. Andersson (koda Fabia R5) +6:32.3
11 P. Heller / P. Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5) +11:03.0
12 J. C. Alonso / M. Mercadal (koda Fabia R5) +11:54.6
13 D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12:08.3