Saturday | 25 Apr 2015

SS8: Sordo piles on the pressure

Dani Sordo moved within touching distance of relegating Jari-Matti Latvala from third at XION Rally Argentina as the Finn counted himself lucky to escape unscathed from the first pass through Saturday’s longest stage.

Stage info: SS8

San Marcos / Characato 1, 42.50km
This was meant to be the longest stage but the first 14.27km were scrapped due to road damage from recent floods. It is narrow and rough but still fast in places, and there is little room for error with rocks lining the road. An extremely tough challenge.

Spaniard Sordo was second through the 42.50km test from San Marcos to Characato in his Hyundai i20. Only an overshoot cost him the opportunity to demote a shaken Latvala, who survived an impact with a bank.

“I lost time at a slow left hairpin,” admitted Sordo. “There was a crest before the corner and I didn’t see it very well. I braked a little bit late and overshot the bend. That’s disappointing but I’m happy with everything else.”

He was 22.7sec faster than Latvala, who was only ninth quickest in his Volkswagen Polo R, to return to service in Villa Carlos Paz having reduced the gap to 14.1sec.

“I hit a bank and went off onto the grass,” admitted Latvala. “I was very lucky not to hit a rock and after that I lost my rhythm.”

Leader Kris Meeke (below) conceded almost 21sec to Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg and the Northern Irishman’s advantage was cut to 32.6sec. Østberg, however, is feeling increasingly ill and admitted he tired in the second part of the stage.

“I was a bit cautious. For me, this is the most difficult stage of the rally and it was important to get through it cleanly. It’s lined with rocks and we’re using new notes too,” said Meeke.

Elfyn Evans remained fifth in a Ford Fiesta RS with Martin Prokop, Thierry Neuville and Khalid Al Qassimi filling the next three places, although Neuville is now only 11.8sec behind the Czech driver. WRC 2 drivers Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Diego Dominguez complete the leaderboard.

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