The opening 9km are identical to 2012, but the rest is new. A rocky opening is hard on the tyres and contains some big adverse camber jumps. The road turns onto a new section with a spectacular lakeland backdrop and is fast and twisty. The final section is narrow over open and undulating moorland, with no trees for drivers to judge their line.
How the action unfolded
A mistake on a muddy corner has cost Sebastien Ogier the lead of Rally Argentina and enabled his rival Sebastien Loeb to steal the position.
Ogier’s error happened in some of the toughest stage conditions of the rally so far, with thick fog, huge shallow puddles and inconsistent grip making the going extremely tricky.
Ogier began the stage with a 17.7sec lead, but from the midpoint the split times showed that something had gone wrong.
“We went straight on at a long corner,” he told WRC Live. “The road tightened but we understeered on to mud and had to reverse out. The handbrake didn’t work again to save me.”
There were no signs of damage to Ogier’s Polo R but the incident cost him more than 40 seconds, dropping him to third behind the new leading Citroen duo of Loeb and Hirvonen.
Loeb was second-quickest through the 39km stage and confessed that he was lucky to have escaped a mistake himself. “I went wide like I did on the earlier stage but this time it cost me only about one second,” he said. “It’s tricky, eh? Very fast, the grip is good then suddenly it’s gone, watersplashes after the crests - it’s difficult.”
Asked whether he knew what had happened to Ogier, Loeb said: “I don’t know, but I was watching his splits and suddenly I went from being seven seconds up to almost 30.”
Hirvonen emerged from the fog in the third-fastest time and now lies second, 8.9sec behind his team-mate. The Finn also reported a near miss. “I went off and hit a rock with the right-hand rear wheel. There was a strange sound but we were lucky, I don’t think it cost us too much,” he explained.
Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth-fastest after a cautious drive in his Volkswagen Polo R. “I don’t like the fog so I don’t like the take chances. We need to be sensible now. I’m still looking for more confidence, especially under braking,” he said.
Mads Ostberg was the stage winner in a Ford Fiesta RS. After Michal Kosciuszko’s retirement on SS6, Ostberg was relaxed about his new start position of first car on the road. “It’s no disadvantage, in fact because there isn’t a huge amount of mud I think it’s quite good for me.”