26 - 29 May 11
17:00 That's all from Argentina
Join us again for live text coverage of the iconic Acropolis Rally on 16-19 June.
16:54 Solberg wins Power Stage
Petter Solberg doesn't make it to the podium - he ends Rally Argentina in fourth place, 32.6s behind third-placed Sebastien Ogier - but he claims three bonus championship points by dint of going fastest of all through this dramatic final Power Stage. His time of 2m20.1s is 0.5s quicker than Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb, who both set a 2m20.6s. More frustration, then, for Jari-Matti Latvala, who restarted today under Superally regulations with the avowed intention of taking maximum points on this stage. Those errors he reported proved to be pivotal, and his time of 2m20.9s fell tantalisingly short.
16:46 Sebastien Loeb wins Rally Argentina
Sebastien Ogier stops the clock at 2m31.2s, 11.2s off Petter Solberg's time and, crucially, 10.7s slower than Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen. That drops him to third place and enables his team-mate to take the win: “I tried to do what I could but it was too difficult to drive the car.” Loeb therefore claims victory from Mikko Hirvonen on Rally Argentina by a margin of just 2.4s, while the unconsolable Ogier finishes the rally 7.3s off the lead. Loeb is both surprised and delighted: “It’s incredible. We thought our chances of winning were over. For sure our rivals hit trouble and eventually we’re here winning the rally. We had close battles with Mikko, Jari-Matti and my team-mate. It’s very tricky to survive here. This was one we didn’t expect.”
16:45 3.3s is the crucial margin
Sebastien Ogier now has to complete the final stage within 3.3s of his team-mate to hold on to victory, but he is 4.4s slower than Petter Solberg at the split.
16:42 Hirvonen matches Loeb
Mikko Hirvonen stops the clock at 2m20.6s - exactly the same time as Sebastien Loeb! Whatever happens next, he will not finish Rally Argentina ahead of Loeb: “I made two mistakes right there in the beginning and I knew right then it wouldn’t be enough. Now we’re here and on the podium, but it’s been a difficult weekend.”
16:40 Has Loeb done enough?
Sebastien Loeb finishes SS19 half a second slower than Solberg on 2m20.6s: “I think compared to Hirvonen it should be enough. Compared to Ogier I don’t know. I didn’t believe I would be fighting for the victory of this rally but I’m really happy with how it has gone today and yesterday.””
16:38 Solberg beats Latvala
Petter Solberg goes quickest of all on 2m20.1, which undercuts Jari-Matti Latvala by 0.8s. Will it be enough to get him on the podium? “Very good, very good! I tried hard, my tyres were very worn, and I know the guys behind me are on better tyres. Let’s hope for the best here now.”
16:35 Fifth place for Ostberg on Rally Argentina
Mads Ostberg finishes the rally in fifth place, just like in Sardinia, and believes that the experience he's gained will make him stronger next year: “I’m happy to go through with no problems - the car has held together. We’ve done well inside the cockpit and we’re prepared for this event next year. Two fifth positions now, and luckily the next two events I know from before so hopefully we can push harder and get closer to the fast guys.” 2m23.8s is his final time.
16:31 Villagra safely through SS19
Sixth place on home ground for Munchi’s Ford driver Federico Villagra and he is delighted: “It’s been a good weekend, very difficult with rough stages. We had a good fight with Matthew and Mads at the beginning. I’m very proud of this event - it’s very special.” His final stage time of 2m24.1 is 1.6s off WIlson's time but he ends the rally 6m44.2s ahead of the M-Sport driver.
16:29 Wilson finishes Rally Argentina
Matthew Wilson's eighth place looks safe as he finishes the final stage with a 2m22.5s, which is 1.6s off Latvala's time: “We could potentially have been a couple of places higher, which is a bit disappointing, but this has been a great rally and the spectators have been really good.”
16:25 Latvala quickest so far in Power Stage
Jari-Matti Latvala flies across the finishing line in 2m20.9s, 10.1s faster than Block. Three points would be a consolation after his misfortune here, as well as on day one in Sardinia: “I did one little mistake towards the end of the stage in a quick place, maybe lost half a second, but otherwise really good. I’ve been so close so many times to fighting for the victory of rallies and that’s what I want to do.”
16:22 Block pleased to be 'comfortable' in the car again
Ken Block completes an eventful Rally Argentina with a final stage time of 2m31.0: “The rear end stepped out a bit on me back there and I couldn’t get it back. I think I have some sort of puncture but that stage was really fun. I feel more comfortable in the car today. It’s been a tough rally with mechanical issues but it was important for me to get comfortable in the car again.”
16:19 Paddon hails PWRC victory
Hayden Paddon takes a well-deserved PWRC win, crossing the finishing line with a sideways flourish and stopping the clock at 2m34.7s: “It’s absolutely amazing. We didn’t come here expecting to win so to come away with maximum points is amazing, especially since we haven’t had maximum power throughout the rally. This one’s for the team.”
16:16 Second place for Flodin in PWRC
Patrik Flodin secures second place in the PWRC and finishes the final stage in 2m38.0s. What a turnaround after his car’s entire electrical system blew on Friday when he was running at the front: “It’s very good to get the points and finish second. If we look back on Friday, it was a terrible start. To finish second now is a great reward for the team, who have been working very hard.”
16:13 Kosciuszko finishes Rally Argentina
3m00.1s for Michal Kosciuszko over the final stage. It's been a mixed bag for him on this event: “The only thing I can be happy about is my speed during yesterday. I had quite an unlucky situation on Friday and then the end of yesterday, but I’m able to win the stages and rallies and that’s my aim for next time.”
16:12 Stage Begin - SS19 Cabalango 2 (3.9km)
Just 3.90km remain of the 2011 Rally Argentina and it’s been a thriller so far. Just 5.7s separates the leading three drivers and Sebastien Loeb is poised to win, despite being penalised a minute on Friday for checking in to a time control too early. There are bonus championship points on offer for the top three drivers on this spectacular live televised stage, and Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala is determined to set the fastest time and claim three points after being forced out yesterday afternoon. The top 10 will take the stage in reverse order, with Michal Kosciuszko first up.
16:03 Ogier clings on to rally lead
Sebastien Ogier wrestles his DS3 around the stadium in 2m35.6s, 10.1s slower than Petter Solberg's time, while Mikko Hirvonen goes round in 2m26.3s. That's 0.2s slower than Loeb, which means the leading trio attack the final 3.90km Power Stage separated by just 5.7s. Loeb has only to make up 3.3s on his team-mate's crippled car to take the lead on this final stage. Will Hirvonen have a say in the result? He will almost certainly pass Ogier, but can he make up his 2.4s deficit to Loeb?
15:59 Solberg beats Loeb in SS18
Petter Solberg's prospects of a podium finish depends on how Sebastien Ogier copes with his failed power steering, but he nevertheless takes 0.6s out of Sebastien Loeb on this stage. 2m25.5 for Solberg makes him the quickest driver through here thus far, but he has 33.1s to make up on Loeb. That is unlikely to happen with just 3.9km of competition to go.
15:56 Ostberg finishes SS18
Mads Ostberg is 0.4s slower than team-mate Matthew Wilson through the stadium stage but 1.0s quicker than Federico Villagra, who completes the stage to a rapturous response from his countrymen in 2m31.0s. That's 0.4s quicker than expert crowd-pleaser Ken Block.
15:50 Latvala quickest so far in SS18
Jari-Matti Latvala and Matthew Wilson are next through the super-special stage and Latvala clocks up the fastest time of all so far, 2m27.5s. Wilson follows in 2m29.6s.
15:47 Block and Paddon complete SS18
Ken Block revels in performing for a crowd so this stage is the perfect hunting ground for him. 2m31.4s is the quickest time so far, while PWRC leader Hayden Padden goes through in 2m39.1s.
15:44 Flodin and Kosciuszko through SS18
PWRC protagonists Patrik Flodin and Michal Kosciuszko go head-to-head in the super-special and Flodin makes easy meat of his rival, who is struggling after suffering a suspension breakage on SS16. 2m38.0s for Flodin, while Kosciuszko limps across the line 18.8s later.
15:43 Stage Begin - SS18 Super Especial Carlos Paz 2 (3.02km)
We revisit the scene of the super-special that opened Rally Argentina on Thursday afternoon. Sebastien Loeb was quickest of all by 0.9s then and will need to make a similar impact this time. The field is going through in reverse order.
14:59 Consistency key for Paddon
Hayden Paddon continues his careful run towards PWRC honours with a time of 2m37.5s. Second-placed Patrik Flodin completes the stage 1.2s down on that time; he no longer needs to push because Michal Kosciuszko, his closest rival for second place, broke a suspension arm on SS16 after hitting a rock that had been thrown onto the racing line by the car in front.
14:57 Fifth fastest for Block
Ken Block slots in behind the top four with a very respectable 2m25.5, just 3.3s slower than Latvala and quicker than both the M-Sport Stobart Fords and Federico Villagra's Munchi's Ford: “Near the end of the last stage we had a little get-off. It was a bit of a late call for a corner and we went wide. We picked up a puncture and I had to change the wheel.”
14:53 Latvala rehearses for the Power Stage
Jari-Matti Latvala gave a signal of his intentions for when we revisit this section for the bonus point Power Stage, crossing the line 0.8s faster than Loeb: “It was very frustrating yesterday, and this morning on the long stage I was saving my tyres. This stage was practice for the power stage - it will be difficult because of my road position but I’m going to try.”
14:50 Wilson relieved to only drop one place
Matthew Wilson finishes SS17 in 2m25.6s, 2.4s quicker than team-mate Ostberg: "We had a problem with water in the engine after we went through the water splash on the last stage. We only lost one position so it could have been worse!"
14:42 Villagra through SS17
Federico Villagra has a good run on SS17 and completes the stage in 2m28.8s, 5.8s off Loeb's benchmark time.
14:40 Scare for Ostberg in SS17
Mads Ostberg stops the clock at 2m28.0s: “I had a big moment in the first corner so after that I was more careful.”
14:37 Solberg second quickest so far through SS17
Fourth-placed Petter Solberg is second fastest through the stage with a 2m23.3s, three tenths slower than Loeb: “I’m just looking at Ogier’s time. He will not win the rally but I’m not sure I will catch him.”
14:34 Loeb fastest of all through SS17
A hard-charging 2m23.0s for Sebastien Loeb in SS17, 0.6s quicker than Hirvonen and 8.7s quicker than Ogier. That brings Loeb’s lead over Hirvonen to 2.2s and he is a tantalising 12.8s off Ogier’s lead: “The battle with Mikko is only two seconds. We can only push, try to fight with Mikko. We are not fighting with Ogier but we will see how it goes for him in the next stage. He is defending very well his place today.”
14:30 Hirvonen attacks on SS17
Mikko Hirvonen takes 8.1s out of Ogier at the end of SS17: “We’re getting close to him [Ogier] but Loeb is also close. That wasn’t a perfect stage, I made a few little mistakes.” Reports from the stage indicate that the wind has dropped and dust is hanging in the air, which may cause visibility problems for subsequent drivers.
14:29 No power steering for Ogier
2m31.7s for Sebastien Ogier in SS17: “I have no power steering but I’m doing what I can. I’m pushing as hard as I can - I think it will go to the end. It will be difficult.”
14:28 Stage Begin - SS17 Cabalango 1 (3.9km)
A fast and flowing stage, popular with the drivers and featuring a deep water splash. But with only 3.90km of it, there’s not much opportunity to make up time.
13:34 All to play for on remaining stages
With no service halt before the end of the rally, leader Sebastien Ogier must repair the damage to his car himself with the spares he's carrying. Just three short stages remain and Ogier leads his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb by 21.5s, with Ford's Mikko Hirvonen 1.6s further back. In fourth place, Petter Solberg is 31.8s away from a podium position at the moment - but as evinced by this morning's events, anything can happen in rallying...
13:15 Paddon survives SS16
PWRC leader Hayden Paddon stops the clock at 39m45.3s, nearly four minutes off the quickest WRC time, while Patrik Flodin goes through quickest of the PWRC runners in 38m52.3s. He's still 7m47.0s behind Paddon overall, though, and unlikely to make up the deficit unless Paddon makes a mistake or is struck by a mechanical failure on the short remaining stages.
13:14 Wilson completes SS16
Matthew Wilson makes it to the end of SS16 after briefly stopping. His time of 43m05.8s means he has lost seven minutes.
13:13 More stoppages on SS16
GPS data indicates that Ken Block and PWRC runners Michal Kosciuszko and Armin Kremer have halted on SS16.
13:04 Latvala finishes SS16
Jari-Matti Latvala, who restarted the rally this morning in eighth position, goes through SS16 in 36m02.4s, 3.1s off the pace set by his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen and 8.7s off Sebastien Loeb's time of 35m53.7s, which remains the fastest so far. Latvala has little incentive to take risks on this stage since his focus is on earning manufacturer points - plus there is the potential for bonus driver points on the power stage later.
13:03 Brake trouble for Villagra
Sixth-placed Federico Villagra crosses the line in 37m22.8s, a further 32.6s slower than Ostberg: “It was tough - I had a problem with the brakes. They got really hot.”
13:02 Wilson stops on SS16
GPS data indicates that Matthew Wilson has halted the second M-Sport Stobart Ford on SS16.
12:58 Careful run for Ostberg in SS16
Mads Ostberg is in cruise mode in the M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta WRC, completing SS16 in 36m50.2s, which is 56.5s off Loeb’s benchmark time: “It was really good fun. I really enjoyed that stage - I don’t know why because it was foggy and wet in some places. I found the rhythm - it’s quite easy when you’re not pushing to the maximum. That was the best stage on this rally.”
12:56 Solberg 'happy' with SS16
Petter Solberg sets the second fastest time through SS16. 35m58.7s is 5.0s slower than Loeb and 0.6s quicker than Hirvonen, but he has to make up 31.8s if he wants to get on the podium: “The car wasn’t so easy to drive and I really struggled in some places. It was difficult to keep the line. There was a lot of fog and many bad rocks but I’m quite happy apart from that. Maybe if we hadn’t had those problems yesterday we could have been battling for the win, but that’s rallying.”
12:51 Loeb completes SS16
Sebastien Loeb crosses the finishing line 5.5s quicker than Mikko Hirvonen to go 1.6s ahead of him overall. He’s now just 21.5s behind leader Ogier, who has stopped on the liaison stage to check the damage to his car: “That’s life. I have to check. What a fight with Mikko. Half of the stage was in the fog and it was really moist. There was no cleaning and we really had to push hard.”
12:48 Hirvonen through SS16
Mikko Hirvonen finishes SS16 20.6s quicker than Ogier. Could the duel between Hirvonen and Loeb soon become a battle for the lead? “Wow,” says Hirvonen. “Well, let’s see how he [Loeb] does. The first section we were equal on the splits but I don’t know after that. We hit a few banks here and there but otherwise no dramas.”
12:43 Ogier rolls in SS16
36m19.9s for Sebastien Ogier in SS16, but he crosses the line with damage to the front of his DS3 WRC: “I rolled the car. I cut the corner too much and I rolled.”
12:37 Loeb edging in on Hirvonen
At the antepenultimate split Sebastien Loeb is 1.9s quicker than Mikko Hirvonen and 9.9s faster than team-mate Ogier. Having started the day with a 43.7s lead, Ogier can afford to take fewer chances on this difficult stage.
12:26 Disappointment for Solberg after strong run
Citroen privateer Petter Solberg dropped to fourth place overall on yesterday's final stage, losing around a minute, after a power steering failure. But he's confident he can make up the 28.4s to third-placed Sebastien Loeb: "I still believe there's a chance of a podium here and that's what I want. We're on a charge this morning."
12:22 Can anyone take on Ogier?
Citroen Total World Rally Team's Sebastien Ogier begins today 47.7s ahead of team-mate Sebastien Loeb and 43.7s ahead of Abu Dhabi Ford World Rally Team's Mikko Hirvonen. Ascochinga is the only long stage of the day - at 48.21km it dwarfs the remaining 3.02km and 3.9km tests - so a fast time through here is vital to anyone hoping to challenge Ogier for overall honours. But last night Loeb wasn't confident: "I was never one second faster per kilometre than him...”
12:18 "Rally can be the hardest game"
Those were Jari-Matti Latvala's words as he reflected on the missed opportunities of Rally Argentina. After defending his lead throughout the day he was forced to withdraw when his car suffered suspension damage on the penultimate stage. He returns under Superally regulations today with the aim of claiming the bonus points on offer in the power stage.
12:16 Stage Begin - SS16 Ascochinga 1 (48.21km)
Good morning and welcome to live text coverage of the final day of competition on Rally Argentina. The word ‘epic’ is often overused but it is perfectly apt in the context of today’s monstrous opening stage. Ascochinga is two venerable Rally Argentina stages joined together by a new section, and each of the classic portions are infamously difficult. The rally could be won or lost here in a torturous hinterland of long straights followed by big crests and tight first-gear hairpins. Throw in rocks and narrow gates and you have a recipe for attrition - as if that hadn’t already happened earlier in the rally. 52 cars started this event and only the leading seven have run relatively trouble-free.
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