SS1: Tänak grabs early lead

Ott Tänak was a convincing winner of Thursday night’s opening speed test at Xion Rally Argentina to lead this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship into the overnight halt.

Stage info: SS1

Super Especial Villa Carlos Paz, 1.90km
Xion Rally Argentina blasts into action with a street stage in the centre of host town Villa Carlos Paz. The show starts on mixed surface roads of asphalt and gravel next to San Roque Lake, featuring jumps, hairpin bends and fast sections to keep the crowds excited.

The Estonian, who won this morning’s shakedown test, blasted through the rain-soaked 1.90km street stage in host town Villa Carlos Paz a remarkable 1.6sec quicker than Sébastien Ogier.

The Toyota Yaris driver’s performance was put into perspective by the fact the following six drivers were blanketed by only seven-tenths of a second.

Tänak dealt superbly with the slippery roads, but admitted he does not know what to expect from the conditions tomorrow when competitors head into the gravel road stages after so much rain over the past few days.

“We don’t know how bad the conditions will be, but I expect them to be really tricky. If a rally driver says it will be tricky, then it will be tough!” he said.

Ogier, driving a Citroën C3, finished 0.1sec clear of Kris Meeke’s Yaris. Andreas Mikkelsen was a further 0.3sec back in the leading Hyundai i20, a tenth clear of team-mate and championship leader Thierry Neuville. Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala tied for sixth.

Teemu Suninen was the only top driver to encounter any issues, the Finn spinning his Ford Fiesta shortly before the finish. He was 10th fastest.

The rally continues on Friday when competitors journey south to the Calamuchita Valley’s soft and rolling landscape. They face two identical loops of three fast and sandy tests, separated by a super special stage at Carlos Paz’s theme park. The seven tests cover 145.92km.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Xion Rally Argentina, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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