Saturday | 23 Apr 2016

SS13: Leading duo gamble on tyres

Frontrunners Jari-Matti Latvala and Hayden Paddon gambled on contrasting tyre choices for what could prove the decisive loop of special stages at YPF Rally Argentina on Saturday afternoon.

Stage info: SS13

Villa Bustos - Tanti 2, 19.71km
It starts on a wide, good-surfaced, fast road with some big corners that demand bravery. However, from 12.30km the road narrows and becomes twisty and rougher, with a couple of water splashes which caught out Andreas Mikkelsen last year.

Leader Latvala left the Villa Carlos Paz service with five soft compound Michelin units in his Volkswagen Polo R for the three afternoon speed tests. Hayden Paddon, 13.3sec behind, opted for two hard and three soft tyres in his Hyundai i20 to combat roads that are rockier and more rutted than this morning.

As the thermometer hovered around 25˚C, Paddon fitted hard rubber to the front and softs to the rear. The result? He conceded 1.2sec to the fastest time of Latvala, but will look at the two following longer tests as the places where his gamble will either pay off or fail.

“It was a compromise for this one,” said Paddon. “The handling wasn’t so bad but the softs were moving around quite a lot and it upset the balance. Hards all round would have been too hard, and softs would have been too soft.”

Latvala’s stage win increased his lead to 14.5sec. “I had a good run. I was too fast into the ruts at one place and the car snapped a bit. I lost a little time but nothing serious,” he said.

Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville filled the podium places in the stage, a deflated Ogier admitting he wasn’t fighting after his time loss in the slippery loose gravel this morning.

In WRC 2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari lost his lead after rolling early in the stage. The Qatari continued after replacing a punctured rear right tyre but Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs emerged with a 3min 27.1sec lead.

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