Friday | 22 Apr 2016

SS7: Latvala edges clear in Argentina

Jari-Matti Latvala fractionally increased his YPF Rally Argentina lead after he and Hayden Paddon shared the wins in the first two stages of Friday afternoon’s repeated loop.

Stage info: SS6 / SS7

SS6: Soconcho - Villa del Dique 2, 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. 

SS7: Amboy - Santa Monica 2, 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.

Kiwi Paddon struck first to win the test from Soconcho to Villa del Dique by a tenth of a second from Sébastien Ogier, with Latvala half a second further back as the fight for supremacy continued at the head of this fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Latvala hit back in Amboy - Santa Monica to head Ogier by two-tenths of a second with Paddon another 2.4sec behind. It left Latvala with a slightly increased 6.6sec advantage over Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Ogier, who relegated Paddon to third, 0.8sec back. 

“The first stage isn’t one of my favourites. There was a lot of impacts in the ruts and I had to be careful not to push too much. The next one was very good, it’s a big fight,” said Latvala.

Ogier admitted he was on the limit and could do no more while Paddon was far from down-hearted at ceding second to the Frenchman.

“I’ve cleaned up my driving. The roads are better than we thought but there is a lot of bedrock which is hard on the car. A long way to go, but if I can keep this time gap at the end of the day and stay within striking distance then I’ll be pleased,” said the Hyundai i20 driver.

Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen were fourth and fifth in both tests but the time gaps were so small that the Spaniard regained just half a second to leave the gap at 12.9sec.

Seventh-placed Henning Solberg reported difficulties in downshifting in his Fiesta RS while Lorenzo Bertelli retired his similar car from eighth after losing all power in Soconcho.

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