Friday | 22 Apr 2016

SS3: Slender lead for Ogier in Argentina

Sébastien Ogier held a narrow lead of six-tenths of a second over Hayden Paddon following Friday morning’s opening two special stages at YPF Rally Argentina.

Stage info: SS2 / SS3

SS2: Soconcho - Villa del Dique 1, 24.71km
New in this formation although all but 2kms at the start were used in 2014. The main feature is the river crossings, seven in all as the test winds its way across the hills. The early sections are extremely fast on a sandy surface until the road becomes twistier and rougher at the midpoint. The final part is less rocky again. 

SS3: Amboy - Santa Monica 1, 20.44km
This famous stage, last used in 2012, is one of the highlights. It is blisteringly fast on mainly smooth and sandy roads. Even the tighter narrow sections are quick as they twist first one way and then the other as the road rises and falls on a bumpy surface. It ends with a spectacular flat-out blast via two sixth gear corners before jumping over the finish at a cattle grid.

Ogier, who was tied at the top of the standings with Dani Sordo following last night’s Cordoba street stage, was quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R through this morning’s opener from Soconcho to Villa del Dique by 1.3sec from Paddon’s Hyundai i20.

Second fastest for the Kiwi in the following test from Amboy to Santa Monica enabled him to close on the Frenchman. Jari-Matti Latvala was quickest through Amboy and was a further 3.7sec back in third in another Polo R.

Conditions in Soconcho were predicted to be extremely rough and rocky, but road opener Ogier was unperturbed.

“It was quite rough, but better than I expected,” he said. “I was expecting lower grip because conditions are drying and the set-up wasn’t quite right. The car was a bit too soft.”

Despite setting second fastest time there, Paddon was disappointed. “A terrible stage. I couldn’t get any flow and the dust hanging in the air meant I couldn’t see the braking points,” he said.

Team-mate Dani Sordo was fourth overall, despite losing time in Soconcho when he clipped a grass bank on a fast corner near the finish, damaging the rear of his i20 (pictured below). Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tänak completed the top six.

Thierry Neuville struggled for confidence and was already 42sec off the pace in eighth, while WRC 2 leader Elfyn Evans punctured in Soconcho before an electrical issue on the liaison section to the following stage forced the Welshman into retirement.

Head to WRC+ to see the latest onboard and video reports from YPF Rally Argentina 

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