Ott Tänak scored his first speed test win at YPF Rally Argentina on Saturday afternoon to climb into third place.
Stage info: SS13
Tanti - Villa Bustos 2, 20.80km
This well-known test has been reversed for 2017. It starts in the middle on Tanti on asphalt before twisting uphill and crossing several water splashes. The second part is faster with some big corners that demand bravery. It is rough initially but becomes smoother as the roads widen towards the finish.
Having relegated M-Sport World Rally Team colleague Sébastien Ogier this morning, Tänak disposed of Mads Østberg after winning the second pass of the Tanti to Villa Bustos special stage in his Ford Fiesta.
He stopped the clocks 11.9sec faster than Østberg’s similar car and is now just 8.4sec behind second-placed Thierry Neuville.
“I hope we have the car working well now. In here it was behaving very nicely. On these nice, smooth roads it’s all about driving and I enjoyed that,” said the Estonian.
Østberg looked dejected at the finish. “I tried to be a bit more careful and not lose the aero or full the car with water. I braked at the watersplash where we lost the diffuser this morning but lost maybe 4sec when everyone else is going through flat out. I have to forget about, and if I lose the aero, then I lose it,” he said.
Leader Elfyn Evans was fourth fastest, completing the stage with his Fiesta’s bumper trailing and a hint of concern in his voice. “I heard a strange noise, like the exhaust had gone, but nothing happened,” he said.
He was 1.4sec faster than Neuville, who was getting used to wholesale changes to his Hyundai i20. The team fitted a new gearbox and front differential and the Belgian also experienced brake issues in the test.
Second fastest time kept Sébastien Ogier firmly in the four-car fight for second, with 24sec covering the quartet. The Frenchman was happier with his Fiesta’s handling, having changed ‘the complete rear of the car’.