Wednesday | 29 Apr 2015

Argentina driver report: Part 2

We continue our look back at how the top drivers coped at XION Rally Argentina.

Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo R)
More rotten luck for Latvala, who went to Argentina determined to end his run of two no-scores. Instead, mainly for reasons that were beyond his control, he failed to finish. He got off to a good start, and by SS3 was 15sec off the lead, but that stretched to more than 80sec when his Polo R picked up a transmission problem. Now third, his fight back was scuppered by a spin on Saturday, before his car succumbed to the same fuel supply problem that took out his team-mate Ogier.

Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta RS)
Tanak was equipped with the same Fiesta RS he had driven to the bottom of a lake in Mexico. After four stages he was fourth overall and on course to take the car to better things in the afternoon having finessed his pace-notes. But 2km into SS4 he suffered another water-related retirement when he took a wheel off in a river crossing. He returned on Saturday at a super cautious pace but was feeling confident enough on Sunday to bag two top five times.

Dani Sordo

Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20)
The Spaniard got off to a terrific start and was second after Friday's giant killing Ascochinga test. Unfortunately his winning prospects took a nose-dive on the next stage when his i20 lost power steering and he dropped a minute. Some decent times followed, including a stage win on Friday's Super Special, but an electrical problem forced him out on Saturday. Showed great pace when he rejoined on Sunday and finished on a high with second on the Power Stage.

Khalid Al Qassimi (DS 3)
Argentina was never going to be easy for Al Qassimi, whose most recent WRC appearance was at Rally de Espana last October. The Abu Dhabi driver had never tackled Rally Argentina before, and to add to the challenge he was in an unfamiliar 2015-spec DS 3. However his cautious approach turned out to be the right strategy for this year's conditions and he came away with a fine sixth - his best result since Australia 2011.

Mads Østberg

Mads Østberg (DS 3)
On the face of it second is a great result - but this was a complex rally for Mads and one he felt he should have won. That looked unlikely after his engine cut-out on Friday's opening stage and he could barely contain his rage at the fourth car-related problem in four rallies. Nevertheless he was up to third by SS3 and this became second by SS5. And then he was stuck. Any better would come at the expense of team-mate Kris Meeke - and at the risk of Citroen's first 1-2 for almost three years. To make matters worse, he had come down with a fever so bad his co-driver had to take the wheel on road sections. He finished 18.1sec behind Meeke, ruing the 45sec lost earlier. 

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)
More tough lessons for Paddon, who became the first victim of the punishing conditions. The Kiwi had gone just 300 metres into Friday's opening stage when a heavy knock broke his car's gearbox mount. Further damage was inevitable as the unit moved about, and his team threw in the towel at midday service when a broken exhaust couldn't be fixed in the time available. He restarted on Saturday, and got back in the groove with fifth and sixth quickest times on the opening two stages, but retired on the next when a jump bounced his car off the road in a frightening accident. He returned again on day three and set sixth and seventh quickest times on El Condor.

Martin Prokop

Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
As a privateer competitor Prokop has a keen interest in damage limitation. If he wrecks his car, he has to pick up the repair bill himself. It's no surprise then that Prokop is one of the most reliable drivers in the championship - and that reliability paid dividends in Argentina. Fourth place matched his career best result so far - which he scored on this event in 2012. It was a fitting farewell for the current Fiona the Fiesta, which will be replaced with a new-spec model in time for Vodafone de Rally Portugal.