Its been a tough test for the worlds best Rally drivers on day 1 of rally Argentina, But at the end of it Jari-Matti Latvala leads, and day 1 ended with no tactics or swapping around road position.
It was a great day for Ford Abu Dhabi’s Jari-Matti Latvala, after finding the rhythm and setting blistering pace on day 1 he leads Petter Solberg by 18.2 seconds. On SS4 El Condor, Latvala was fastest by a good 9.2 seconds an blew everyone away with his pace on the tarmac section at the end where even Loeb struggled, and the Fin set an average speed of 196kph in the final 6km’s of the stage, it’s believed that the Fiesta has a top speed of around 203kph, which gives an idea of his pace in the final part of that stage. That amazing pace continued in the afternoon and took anther fastest time on SS5.
But on SS6, the Mina Clavero stage, some of the glory went to Petter Solberg, as the 2003 World champion not only set the fastest stage time, but it was his 400 stage win of his career. on SS7 Loeb finally showed us what makes him 7 times champ an set his first proper Gravel stage win of the rally so far, although he finishes the day down in 5th after incurring a 1 minute penalty going into regroup at mid-day service 2 seconds to early.
Ahead of Loeb up in 4th place is Fords Mikko Hirvonen who was 15.5s slower than Loeb, which he said was down to his tyres losing grip and struggling on the final tarmac section of the final stage, along with a less than ideal set-up. Ahead of the Ford man finishing the day in 3rd place, and will be 3rd on road tomorrow is the other Seb, known as Seb 2.0, Ogier saying, “It was not strategy. I was a little scared about my tyres on the Tarmac.
Ending today in 2nd place overall was the very delighted P.Solberg who lost time to JML in the final stage but happy to be very near the top saying, “It’s been a very good day actually. On the tarmac I just didn’t know how to approach it. But a good day, I am very, very happy.”
But all the glory of day 1 goes to Latvala saying, “[The final stage] was okay. After 10 km I braked too late and stalled the engine. I didn’t need to reverse but I still lost some time. I was actually enjoying the tarmac section. i want to be first car on the road tomorrow, I think its a good position.”
Stobart boys of Mads Ostberg and Matt Wilson are battling each other and sit in 6th and 7th. Home boy Frederico Villagra is in 8th and still getting cheered enthusiastically by his home fans from stage side. And american Ken Block ends the day in 9th, after realising that he can’t keep up with the pace of the top boys, he takes a less risky plan and shows off to the spectators in his Gymkhana style driving in the last few corners, burning whats left of his rubber.
Leading positions after SS7: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 1h48m59.7s 2. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 18.2s 3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 28.8s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 43.5s 5. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 1m30.3s 6. Mads Ostberg Stobart Ford + 2m55.2s 7. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 3m27.4s 8. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford + 3m40.9s 9. Ken Block Monster Ford + 6m04.8s 10. Hayden Paddon Symtech Subaru + 11m49.6s