Friday | 24 Apr 2015

SS2: Meeke leads after dramatic opener

Kris Meeke was the surprise leader of XION Rally Argentina after Friday morning’s gruelling opening stage which caused carnage among the frontrunners.

Stage info: SS2

Agua de Oro / Ascochinga 1, 51.99km
A well-known stage used in the opposite direction for the first time. The opening 21km are incredibly rough, twisty and littered with rocks before the road opens into faster sections. The stage mainly runs across vast open pampas, undulates frequently and contains several water splashes. A great stage but extremely tough.

He was fastest in Citroën’s DS 3 by 31.9sec from Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20, with Jari-Matti Latvala completing the top three a further 1.9sec behind in a Volkswagen Polo R.

The stage lived up to forecasts that it would be a car-breaker and the biggest name to suffer was championship leader Sébastien Ogier who parked his Polo R after 45km with suspected engine problems.

Neither Meeke nor Sordo escaped unscathed. Meeke drove the entire test with a broken handbrake while Sordo lost time towards the finish when his power steering broke.

“It was difficult in the hairpins and in the last 10km I couldn’t see for the dust. I took it carefully and was idling into corners,” said Meeke.

Mads Østberg was fourth, 43.0sec off the lead, despite stopping mid-stage with an engine issue. “Four rallies, four problems. Not good,” said the dejected Norwegian.

Andreas Mikkelsen - dropped two minutes

Fellow countryman Andreas Mikkelsen dropped two minutes after spinning his Polo R in a fast right corner and puncturing the front right wheel. The rear took a big hit in the spin and Mikkelsen was worried about possible suspension damage.

Thierry Neuville punctured the left rear tyre on his i20 after hitting a stone over a crest. He dropped four minutes after a difficult change.

Elfyn Evans lost time after being slowed by Neuville’s dust when the Belgian rejoined, while Hayden Paddon finished with broken engine mounts, a suspected broken driveshaft and a holed turbo pipe. And the Kiwi was still fifth quickest!

Lorenzo Bertelli stopped his Fiesta RS before the midpoint.

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