Nasser Al-Attiyah put his rough road experience to good use to build a commanding lead in WRC 2 after a day of attrition during the first full leg of Rally Argentina.
The Qatari, a former winner of the Dakar Rally, is 2min 45.2sec ahead of championship leader Yuriy Protasov after a day when many fancied frontrunners hit problems. Both are driving Ford Fiesta RRCs.
Al-Attiyah took the lead on SS3 as the hot pace set by Jari Ketomaa and Nicolás Fuchs proved in vain. Both had problems and Al Attiyah stretched his advantage over Protasov, both lying inside the top 10 overall.
“All day I ran high with the set-up to be sure the car was OK on the rough roads. I tried not to make any mistakes and it worked,” he said.
Diego Dominguez is third in a Fiesta R5, almost five minutes behind Al-Attiyah, with the Skoda Fabia S2000 of Gustavo Saba fourth, a further minute behind. Both are making their WRC 2 debuts.
Ketomaa’s speed carried him to sixth overall until the Finn punctured the front left tyre in his Fiesta R5 and after replacing it, the car would not restart. Fans pushed it downhill and he was able to bump-start it in reverse, but more than seven minutes were lost.
Fuchs also punctured and a broken differential this afternoon cost several minutes before the Peruvian stopped in the final test. However, he overnights in fifth, 1min 15sec ahead of Ketomaa.
Ott Tänak crashed heavily at the same point as Mads Østberg in the opening stage while Lorenzo Bertelli, second in the championship, stopped in the following test.
Quentin Gilbert changed a front left puncture in SS3 and later broke a front driveshaft on his Fiesta R5 while Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari retired in the previous test after hitting a rock. Other retirements included Ramon Torres and Augusto Bestard.