Saturday | 25 Apr 2015

SS7: Meeke spins in Saturday opener

XION Rally Argentina leader Kris Meeke received an unwanted wake-up call on Saturday morning’s opening stage when he spun in thick dust in the opening kilometres.

Stage info: SS7

Capilla del Monte / San Marcos 1, 23.10km
Last used in 2009, this is mainly uphill and technical. It blends twisty sections with plenty of corners with a scattering of faster roads. The surface is smooth but a covering of loose gravel on top makes it slippery. The final downhill section to the finish offers spectacular views over the San Marcos Sierra region.

Meeke dropped almost 15sec to closest challenger and Citroën DS 3 team-mate Mads Østberg and the gap between the duo fell from 68.4sec to 53.5sec.

“It was very, very dusty. I got mixed up with the braking and spun onto the grass. I had to reverse back onto the road. Hopefully the wind will clear the dust as the day goes on,” said Meeke.

Jari-Matti Latvala was third fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R and admitted poor visibility prompted him to drive cautiously.

“I had to be very careful in places, I couldn’t push to the maximum. I tried to keep a good rhythm but at one point there was a massive rock which I had to drive round,” said the Finn.

Volkswagen team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen were first and second, while sixth for Dani Sordo left him frustrated but nevertheless enabled him to extend his advantage over Elfyn Evans by almost 10sec in their fight for fourth.

Yurii Protasov, 10th last night and second in WRC 2, plunged down the order after receiving a 15-minute penalty for driving 1.42km on a public road with three wheels on his Ford Fiesta RRC. It preceded his heroic efforts to replace the rear wheel, damper and driveshaft after the unit flew off his car near the end of SS3 yesterday.

Due to the dust, organisers have increased the gap between competitors from two to three minutes for SS8.

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