Its Fiesta time in Argentina as Fords Jari-Matti Latvala Leads after the first loop of stages on day 1.
The crews are currently in Service getting the cars ready to get back out onto the long road section to repeat this mornings stages as Latvala leads overall by 12.3 seconds to Petter Solberg. The final stage of the morning before service was the classic El Condor stage which new for this year contains a 20Km Tarmac section.
Loeb was first on the sandy and rough gravel stages and at the end of SS4 El Condor stage, Loeb was not happy about the final tarmac section, “Terrible, its undriveable. It’s really, really dangerous, it’s doing what it wants. It’s too fast you cannot keep the cars straight just a little bit of brake and the car goes everywhere”.
Loeb was only 4th fastest and was in 4th overall. But we are hearing that he may have picked up a 1 minute penalty for coming in too early to Service B.
Petter Solberg has been going well this morning. At the end of SS4 said “I struggled a lot on the tarmac that was unbelievable. Jari did a very, very good time – he killed everyone on the tarmac”. Solberg is in 2nd place overall, 3.9 seconds ahead of Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier who isn’t finding it easy on the tough stages but is still ahead of Fords Mikko Hirvonen who is now in 4th after Loebs Penalty.
Ken Block gets the ‘Quote of the rally’ so far for describing the final tarmac section as “At times it’s like driving on hot Gummi bears!” Block is down in 9th behind Villagra. The Two Stobart boys are going well, no dramas so far and Mads Ostberg holds 6th overall 12.2 ahead of team mate Matthew Wilson.
Mr Block may have ‘Quote of the Rally’, but fastest driver so far is Flying Fin Jari-Matti Latvala, who is totally on a flyer and has won all 3 of this morning stages, and took SS4 by nearly 10 seconds. A change to the ride height before El Condor helped him to gain some time on the last tarmac section, but was a bit risky due to the rough Gravel of the first part of the stage. “I’m happy that i’m going well on tarmac. I feel much happier in the fiesta than the Focus. I went 20mm lower on the road than on any other stage.” Latvala currently leads overall by 12.3 Seconds.
Further down, PWRC driver Martin Semerad stopped on SS4 and has retired after ripping the front right wheel off. Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon is in 3rd overall and at the end of SS4 said “We took it pretty easy in there, the second stage made this look smooth – the next run through this is going to be rough.” Hayden is 19.1 sec behind 2nd placed Michal kosciuszko. Patrick Sandell wasnt comfortable on the tarmac section at the end of SS4 but leads overall.
The drivers are now on their way out for the afternoon run through the stages.