Monday | 18 Apr 2016

Rally rewind: Argentina 2015

The one where Volkswagen had a shocker, Kris Meeke made history and the teams' recovery trucks were kept busy. Remember this?

Thursday 23 April: Ogier jumps ahead
Sébastien Ogier was the early leader, winning Thursday night’s super special in Merlo by two-tenths of a second from his VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and Citroën’s Kris Meeke. “It’s going to be a long weekend with some very tough stages,” promised the Frenchman. He was dead right.

Friday 24 April: Giant killer
Twenty four hours later Kris Meeke held a commanding lead after a day of carnage in the rock-strewn plains near Cordoba. The Brit won three of Friday's five stages to build a lead of 68.4sec from team-mate Mads Østberg as the rough gravel tracks sidelined a host of frontrunners - most notably Ogier who stopped on the opening stage with a fuel-injection problem.

No laughing matter for (left to right) Tanak, Mikkelsen and Ogier

Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala was Meeke’s closest challenger for much of the leg until he dropped almost a minute with a broken gearbox and ended 15.1sec behind Østberg. Dani Sordo was almost two minutes off the lead in fourth in a Hyundai i20. He was second early on but broken power steering cost a minute and he ended 5.5sec ahead of Elfyn Evans in fifth.

Joining Ogier on the retirement list was Mikkelsen who punctured after a high-speed spin and broke his front suspension and later his power steering. Also stopped were Ott Tänak, who retired his Ford Fiesta RS from fourth after hitting a rock and breaking the front suspension, and Hayden Paddon who went out with a catalogue of problems on his Hyundai i20.

Saturday 25 April: Meeke heading for history
Meeke moved closer to his maiden WRC victory after protecting his lead from Østberg through the second leg. But it wasn't plain sailing. Meeke conceded almost 21sec to Østberg when he spun in thick dust on the opening stage and the Northern Irishman’s advantage was cut to 32.6sec. Østberg, however, was battling a fever and admitted to feeling tired on the long stages.

Latvala in third was lucky to escape when his Polo R hit a bank and went off the road while holding off a determined Sordo. The Spaniard later retired on the day's final stage with water in the engine of his Hyundai i20. Elfyn Evans was up to fourth and more than two minutes clear of Thierry Neuville, who recovered from a costly puncture on Friday.

Sunday 26 April: Meeke does it!
Meeke became the first British driver to win a world rally since 2002. The Northern Irishman headed Østberg by 18.1sec as Citroën claimed its first 1-2 finish for almost three years. There were just two stages in the final leg, but the famous roads of El Condor provided a sting in the tail to a gruelling weekend.

Volkswagen's misery continued when Latvala retired from third with a fuel injector problem during the first pass of the test. Team-mate Mikkelsen and fourth-placed Neuville both crashed out after hitting the same rock in the repeat run. Evans survived final stage suspension problems to finish a career-best third, 3min 27.4sec behind Meeke. Martin Prokop matched a career-best fourth in another Fiesta RS while Sordo recovered to fifth.


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