Ott Tänak leads Rally Argentina by 22.7 seconds at the end of the first full day following an outstanding performance in his Toyota Yaris WRC, winning five of the seven stages. Esapekka Lappi also showed good pace on his Argentina debut and ended the day in eighth place. Jari-Matti Latvala was battling for the lead when he hit a hidden rock, forcing him to retire from the rally.
Tänak lost around 20 seconds on the first stage of the day due to a spin but bounced back immediately with the fastest time on the following test, despite a steering problem. He repeated that on SS4, claiming the 100th stage win of his FIA World Rally Championship career and his 20th for Toyota since joining the team at the start of the year. He claimed the rally lead with a good time on the super special stage prior to midday service and then pulled away by winning all three stages of the afternoon loop.
In his first full day competing on true Argentinean stages, Lappi backed up the performance of the Yaris WRC by sitting fourth overall after SS3. With small gaps between the drivers, he slipped back later on, thanks in part to three punctures, but ended the day positively to move into eighth on the leaderboard.
Latvala had to stop on SS3 after hitting a rock on the exit of the corner which was masked by shadows. The impact broke the front-right suspension on his car, and this in turn caused a failure of the engine lubrication system, meaning that the car had to be retired from the rally. Before that, he had demonstrated his speed, matching Tänak in the split times.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It has been an absolutely brilliant day from Ott today. Obviously he lost some time on the first stage this morning with a spin in a narrow place, but after that he was just driving brilliantly. He seems to be very happy with the car and I believe that he is well in control of the situation. It is very unfortunate what happened to Jari-Matti, because he was flying and he could have been fighting for the win with Ott. Esapekka was quick this morning and then he had these punctures, and I think he wanted to take things a little more carefully, which is natural on his first time here. If he keeps improving then I think we can score some good points with two cars.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“I had a perfect feeling with the car this morning. The Yaris WRC is going so well here, and it was so easy to drive. I was really enjoying it. The second stage of the day was going really well and actually getting better and better as it went on. Then we came to a long right-hand corner and at the exit of the corner I hit a rock which I didn’t see hidden in the shadows. Immediately the front-right suspension was broken and one of the oil pipes was damaged, so I had to stop. On this rally there are so many rocks: sometimes you are lucky with them and sometimes you are unlucky, and I think I was unlucky. It is very frustrating because we were in such a good rhythm. My co-driver Miikka was really frustrated too, because he knew that I was not attacking too hard. I just need to put this behind me, and hope that I can get that good feeling again on the next rally. One thing is for sure: the car is really fast.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I am definitely happy with today. We have been pushing really hard and I couldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for the perfect feeling that I have with the car. It has been performing really well and it’s giving me confidence. It’s good that we have been able to make some improvements and they seem to be paying off, although I think there is still more to come. It’s a shame that we lost some time on the first stage this morning: I’m not sure how it happened but we had a spin in a very narrow place and it took a long time to get back in the right direction. Then we started to push hard to get the time back, and this afternoon we had three perfect stages. I feel quite confident about our position: Tomorrow the stages are even faster and we know that fast roads suit this car really well, and I was able to do some really good times on these stages last year, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“This morning started surprisingly well on the first two stages. On the third one we lost a lot of time, as it was a bit more slippery and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. This afternoon it was a lot rougher on the second pass, and to have three punctures today is obviously not good. I’m not really sure why it kept happening, and to be honest I think it was just bad luck: the tyres themselves were fine but they kept coming off the rim. Tomorrow the weather might be different and this could be an opportunity for me to get some time back.”
End of day two (Friday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1h30m38.6s
2 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +22.7s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +28.6s
4 Dani Sordo/Carlos Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +29.5s
5 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +36.4s
6 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +41.2s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +58.5s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m07.9s
9 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m10.3s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m33.7s
Retired Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)
(Results as of 19:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The rally moves north on Saturday for three stages in Punilla Valley, with each one being run twice. They include the longest stage of the rally, the 40.48-kilometre Cuchilla Nevada - Rio Pintos. There will also be another visit to the super special close to the service park in the middle of the day.
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