Rally Argentina is underway following tonight’s super special stage in Villa Carlos Paz, with Ott Tänak setting the fastest time for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. He also topped the pre-event shakedown held this morning, but a challenging three days lie ahead for all of the competitors amidst demanding conditions.
The shakedown took place over a 4.25-kilometre stage close to the service park in Villa Carlos Paz, and gave the drivers a taste of what they could face over the weekend, following heavy rain and thunderstorms in the build up to the event that have soaked the sandy gravel stages. Tänak ended shakedown with the quickest time, with Kris Meeke equal second-fastest and Jari-Matti Latvala in eighth.
In the first stage, held on a mix of asphalt streets and dirt tracks in downtown Villa Carlos Paz, Tänak was 1.6 seconds faster than anyone else over 1.9 kilometres. Meeke and Latvala also enjoyed clean runs, setting the third and joint sixth best times respectively.
Kaj Lindström (Sporting Director)
“It’s good to be leading the rally tonight but we are focused on the challenges to come. This will probably be the roughest Rally Argentina for a long time. It has been raining a lot over the past couple of days and this has made the conditions on the stages quite bad, as we could see on shakedown. The team was doing a lot of work to try and find the right setups for the conditions, and the drivers were happy with how the cars were feeling. When the stages are rough like this, it’s much easier to damage the cars, so the drivers will need to take a more careful approach. The weather is set to dry out, but tomorrow at least the stages should be wet, and it will be interesting to see what condition they’re in after the first pass.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“It was nice to start the rally with a good time tonight, especially with so many passionate people coming out to watch the action. As drivers we really enjoy the support we get here in South America. The car was performing well in shakedown and we were fastest on the first run. But after a couple of runs, the road got really cut up and the conditions were not so nice, so we just had to preserve the car a bit. This is always a tough rally but the weather is adding some extra spice this year. It’s been raining for a couple of days now and I believe tomorrow will be a tough start for everyone with all the mud and water on the stages.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
“It’s going to be a really challenging event for everyone this weekend. It’s been raining so much that it’s making the roads very, very soft, and we could see already on the shakedown that massive ruts were forming. These conditions are going to be hard on the cars, so you have to think about endurance as well as pure performance. I was still trying to fine-tune the setup in shakedown, but on the final run the car felt very good and I’m confident that with that setup we can do a good performance here.”
Kris Meeke (Driver car 5)
“I have always been strong on this rally, but this year it’s going to be a different challenge with the amount of rain we’ve had during the week. I think the weather’s going to get better but the stages are very soft. They have quite a sandy surface and when it’s wet, they get cut up so quickly with really deep ruts. Tomorrow’s stages were the first ones that we recced on Tuesday and since then it’s rained really heavily. There could be a lot of standing water in places that we haven’t seen, so it’s going to be a step into the unknown. It was a nice simple run tonight and now we’re ready for the big challenge ahead.”
End of day one (Thursday):
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1m58.6s
2 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1.6s
3 Kris Meeke/Seb Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1.7s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.0s
5 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.1s
6 Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.3s
7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2.9s
9 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.1s
10 Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3.5s
(Results as of 20:15 on Thursday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
The first full day of action takes place mostly to the south in the Calamuchita Valley, where three stages will each run twice. At the end of the morning loop, the crews tackle a head-to-head super special stage upon their return to Villa Carlos Paz for mid-day service.
Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique (SS2 & SS6, 16.65 kilometres)
Martin Järveoja (Co-driver car 8):
“As the first proper stage of the rally, this one is going to be particularly crucial, as we won’t know exactly how the conditions are going to be, especially as we did the recce in the dry before the rain came. Like all of tomorrow’s stages, it’s usually quite fast in the dry, but I’m sure there will be some surprises.”
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