TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team made a good start to Rally Argentina on a 1.9-kilometre super special stage in the centre of the host city, Villa Carlos Paz. Ott Tänak was second quickest and is only 0.3 seconds away from the lead ahead of three full days of rallying. Esapekka Lappi was sixth, and just a second slower, while Jari-Matti Latvala was ninth fastest and sits within 1.6s of the lead.
Latvala had earlier set the fastest time during the morning shakedown, held over roads that were far more representative than the super special of the sandy gravel stages that lie ahead. Tänak was fifth fastest and Lappi, who is competing in Argentina for the first time, was 10th. All three were pleased with the feeling of the Toyota Yaris WRC having used the recent pre-event test in Sardinia to hone their setups.
Tom Fowler (Chief Engineer)
“Shakedown this morning went well. Everything was working as it should and we had some good times from the drivers, which was positive even though we don’t like to read too much into them. All the drivers are really happy with their setups for the days to come. The shakedown stage was quite representative with a good mix of the characteristics that we will see over the rally, so we were able to make a couple of small tweaks to the cars, but there was no need for major changes after a good pre-event test. We had a different setup for the first stage tonight because it was totally different to the rest of the rally. In a short stage like that there is little time to be gained, so the drivers just had to stay out of trouble and be ready for the rest of the rally.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I have a good feeling at the start of the rally. The time in the first stage was not as good as I was hoping – I think I was a little too careful under braking – but there were no mistakes and that’s always the important thing on a stage like that. Here in Argentina the atmosphere and the passion is a bit like on Rally Finland, except that here in South America I think that they show it even more! As a driver you can get an extra kick from that. I am really motivated for this rally. I am just focused on the driving, and it helps that the car felt really good in shakedown. I just want to go as fast as I can and do a good drive.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It’s always special to start a rally with a crowded super special stage, and that is particularly true here in Argentina where there are so many people watching. Seeing that passion makes us more excited and makes us want to push even harder in the rally. We had a good run and I enjoyed it. The feeling in shakedown was more or less the same as we had on the test before the rally, and that feeling is a good one. I’m quite happy with the car and with the balance generally. Everything was working as it should and it’s nice to go into the rally like this. We definitely feel that we are well prepared, so now it’s up to us to make the best out of it. Running third on the road tomorrow will make things tough, especially as the weather looks to be dry, but we just need to try our best and make sure we are in a good position for the second day.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“This first stage was nothing like the rest of the rally! The gravel section was really slippery: I was just sliding through it. It’s always very nice to see a lot of spectators on a super special stage like this one. It is why we do them, and it gives us drivers a great feeling afterwards. Shakedown was really good, I think. I’m really pleased with the car and how it is handling. Everything felt comfortable, it was fun. It was a bit rough and soft but that didn’t bother me too much. We could see that the ruts are forming quite quickly, so you need to keep the car in the ruts and then just try to avoid the rocks. With this approach, trying not to have any problems, I think a good result could be possible.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1m54.4s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.3s
3 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +0.4s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.5s
5 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +0.7s
6 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.3s
7 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1.4s
8 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.5s
9 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.6s
10 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.2s
(Results as of 20:30 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first full day of Rally Argentina on Friday consists of seven stages. Crews head south to the Calamuchita Valley for a loop of three stages that will each be run twice, separated by a super special stage close to the service park in Villa Carlos Paz.
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