One driver who won’t be challenging for top spot in South America is Jari-Matti Latvala. The factory Ford driver is nursing a broken collarbone - the legacy of a fall while cross-country skiing - and therefore won’t be competing in his Fiesta RS WRC.
Dani Sordo has been loaned from the rival Prodrive WRC Team to deputise for the Finn on a one-off basis and has limited time to learn his new car and adapt to his new team. But the Spaniard showed plenty of pace on the gravel of Portugal and possesses a strong record in Argentina having finished second there in 2009.
In Latvala’s enforced absence it will be left to Petter Solberg to lead the Ford World Rally Team and the Norwegian will be a contender for outright honours.
If he’s to snatch victory then he will have to overcome the threat posed by works Citroen aces Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen. Loeb heads the drivers’ championship - four points ahead of Solberg no less - while Latvala won on the road in Portugal only for a technical infringement to lead to his post-rally exclusion. Citroen has triumphed in Argentina on seven previous occasions with Loeb winning six times in succession.
Vodafone Rally de Portugal winner Mads Ostberg is back in action in Argentina and full of confidence in his Adapta World Rally Team Fiesta. Evgeny Novikov also impressed in Portugal, while M-Sport team-mate Ott Tanak will be looking to build on his potential following an indifferent start to 2012.
Nasser Al-Attiyah arrives in Argentina on the back of his best WRC finish of fourth in Portugal. He also has form in South America, having triumphed on the Dakar Rally in 2011. The Qatar World Rally Team driver lists Argentina as one of his favourite events and will shine in his Citroen DS3 WRC.
Thierry Neuville will make his Rally Argentina debut for the Citroen Junior World Rally Team and will be under strict orders to reach the finish. Czech Republic’s Martin Prokop, who replaces Jari Ketomaa in an Autotek Motorsport Fiesta, will also be targeting a strong finish, as will Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira, who made his WRC debut in Argentina in 2009.
Portugal’s Armindo Araujo and Brazil’s Paulo Nobre head the MINI challenge in Argentina in a brace of John Cooper Works WRCs run under the WRC Team MINI Portugal banner. Ex-Ensign and ATS Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar will make his world championship debut in a third MINI run by the British Prodrive organisation.
Volkswagen Motorsport will continue its WRC acclimatisation programme by entering Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen in a pair of Skoda Fabia Super 2000s.
Rally Argentina will count as round three of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship. A preview will appear on WRC.com next week.
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