Friday | 24 Apr 2015

SS3: Latvala slashes Meeke's lead

Jari-Matti Latvala climbed into second and cut Kris Meeke’s lead in half during Friday morning’s second stage at XION Rally Argentina.

Stage info: SS3

Villa Bustos / Tanti 1, 19.71km
Parts of this test were used in 2007, but much is new. It starts on a wide, good-surfaced, fast road with some big corners that demand bravery. It is only in the final 4km that it becomes twisty and rougher, with a couple of water splashes.

Meeke’s 31.9sec advantage was cut to 15.3sec by the Finn after the Northern Irishman drove two-thirds of the test from Villa Bustos to Tanti with a rear right puncture on Citroën’s DS 3.

“I had a good run for the opening 5-6km but then punctured and had to drive slowly for the final 15km,” said Meeke, who was fifth fastest.

Latvala enjoyed a great drive and the Volkswagen Polo R pilot was fastest by 10.2sec from a happier Mads Østberg, now in third and 20.9sec behind the Finn.

Dani Sordo drove the entire test with no power steering on his Hyundai i20 after his opening stage issues. He lost a minute and plunged from second to sixth.

Dani Sordo - lost a minute with broken power steering

Also in trouble was Andreas Mikkelsen who finished with the front right damper protruding through his Polo R’s bonnet. He dropped three minutes and was caught by Thierry Neuville, who gave the rear of Mikkelsen’s car a nudge before overtaking.

“He was driving slowly and I had to give him a push to let him know I was there. Clearly it was a bit hard,” said Neuville, as he surveyed the damaged front of his i20.

M-Sport duo Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans were fourth and fifth overall in Ford Fiesta RS cars, despite Evans touching a rock with his front right wheel near the finish. They were separated by 10.5sec.

Behind Sordo in seventh was Martin Prokop, who spun his Fiesta RS near the finish, while Hayden Paddon dropped from fifth to eighth after losing a minute with host of problems in his i20 including no oil in the gearbox, damaged engine mounts and an exhaust hanging off.

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