After the events of the previous round in Portugal, where Loeb crashed and Hirvonen was stripped of victory, the pressure was on the Citroen duo to deliver. And they did that with a perfect one-two finish.
Loeb sealed his seventh victory in Argentina and his 70th in the FIA World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Citroen DS3, while Hirvonen took second.
Slippery, muddy conditions made the event treacherous and put the emphasis on cautious driving and tyre strategy – especially how to make the most of the limited allocation of the advantageous soft-compound tyre.
Loeb’s victory was all-but guaranteed midway through the penultimate day’s competition when, faced with his two drivers pushing each other hard in a mud bath, Citroen team chief Yves Matton gave the order for Hirvonen to remain behind in order to secure the one-two.
Standing-in for the injured Latvala, Sordo had been on course to take third in a Ford Fiesta RS until an alternator problem forced his retirement with just one stage of the rally remaining. His exit promoted Ostberg to third in another Ford Fiesta RS, with Prokop taking a career best fourth.
Argentina tyre facts:
Both WRC suppliers will use the 2013 evolutions of their WRC gravel tyre for Rally Argentina. Michelin will supply its Latitude Cross to the majority of crews, while DMACK will be offering its DMG+2 tyre.
Both Michelin’s Latitude Cross and DMACK’s DMG+2 tyres are available in just one construction and tread pattern, but are offered in two compounds (hard and soft) to suit the varied conditions on the nine gravel rallies in the season.
In Argentina, each WRC crew will have 28 soft-compound tyres available, plus an alternative of 16 hard-compound tyres. Each competitor is allowed to use a maximum of 28 tyres across both compounds for the entire event.