Thursday | 28 Apr 2016

Argentina driver report: part 2

We look at how the leading drivers coped on Argentina’s rough gravel roads in the second part of our summary.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 3rd
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mikkelsen (above) wasn’t in Argentina. His plan was for a risk-free, cautious-first drive on a rally where things have never really gone his way. He always had the better of Dani Sordo as they contested fourth, and his ‘under the radar’ policy paid off as he inherited a podium when team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out of the lead on Saturday.

Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: 13th
Bertelli was sitting pretty in eighth on Friday afternoon before a turbo problem left the Italian with little in the way of power from under the bonnet of his Fiesta RS. Retirement beckoned and when he returned on Saturday things still weren’t quite right as the anti-lag system wasn’t working. He eventually got it sorted and apart from a puncture, the rest of the rally passed relatively peacefully.

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)
Result: 6th
After failing to score in Sweden and Mexico, a solid points finish was what Neuville required. That looked a million miles away on Friday morning when his i20 stopped several times thanks to a faulty connection system, which Hyundai suggested might have been due to human error. The six minutes lost left the Belgian distraught, but he dug in and recovered to sixth, possibly only a place below where he would have finished without the problem. 

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)
Result: 1st
In future years Paddon might wake up at night in a cold sweat after nightmares about the penultimate Mino Clavero – Giulio Cesare stage. That was where a 22.4sec advantage over Sébastien Ogier was whittled down to 2.6sec and his hopes of a maiden WRC win were on a knife edge. But the final El Condor test was a dream, 11.7sec faster than Ogier, and the service park cheered as one (apart from the German corner) for the popular Kiwi. Superb.

Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 2nd
Ogier was in his grumpiest mood for quite some time as the perennial start order debate rattled the Frenchman more than it has for a while. Saturday night’s verbal spat with Paddon added spice to the event off the stages while, on them, Argentina remains the only WRC round Ogier has yet to win. He almost pulled it off with a charging Sunday morning drive but, having seemingly done the hard work, he was no match for Paddon in the last stage duel.  

Marcos Ligato (DS 3)
Result: 7th
Argentine Ligato jumped into a DS 3 with little in the way of preparation and delighted the home fans with a strong performance. Aside from a Friday skid into a bank which cost three minutes when he had to stop and remove the damaged front bumper from blocking the radiator inlet, Ligato did little wrong. The highlight was fourth fastest time through the devilishly rough Mino Clavero – Giulio Cesare stage on the last morning.

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