ARGENTINE HEARTACHE FOR M-SPORT’S YOUNG STARS
Despite setting some promising times over the opening stages, there was heartache for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Evgeny Novikov on the opening day of competition at the 2012 Philips Rally Argentina. Nevertheless, in spite of the unfortunate setbacks, both crews will rejoin under Rally 2 tomorrow.
Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk suffered a puncture on SS2 followed by a small mistake on SS3 which saw the pairing damage the steering arm on their Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Despite the damage, Tänak’s previous work as a mechanic for his mentor Markko Märtin’s rally team was put to good use. Due to the mammoth length of the event, the team opted to carry some additional spares which – combined with Tänak’s ingenuity and mechanical knowledge – saw the 24-year-old able to change the steering arm on stage and make it back to service, albeit more than 20 minutes behind the leaders.
Unfortunately for Tänak, he was to fall foul to the second pass over the 37.5 km of La Pampa (SS4). Sliding off the road in the slippery conditions, the Estonian was unable to rejoin the stage. But with no damage to his Fiesta RS WRC, the youngster will Rally 2 tomorrow.
Elsewhere, having hit a rock which had been pulled onto the inside of a corner on SS2, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet incurred damage to the left-rear wheel of their Ford Fiesta RS WRC. The impact damaged a bolt on the left-rear wishbone which consequentially forced the wheel out by 90 degrees on the following stage (SS3). Having to retire from the first full day of competition, the pairing will also rejoin under Rally 2 tomorrow.
Ott Tänak (Rally 2) said:
“We had a half spin in a very slow and narrow section on SS4. We become stuck on the side of the road, and with no spectators around, it was impossible to move the car. There was no damage, so we will restart tomorrow.
“This has been a very disappointing day, but there is still a long way to go. Now we just need to keep our concentration and focus on getting as much experience from the rest of the stages as we can.”
Evgeny Novikov (Rally 2) said:
"We hit a small rock on SS2 and it looks as though it damaged a bolt on the rear wishbone. On SS3 the bolt broke which turned the left-rear wheel out by 90 degrees. I tried to drive to the end of the stage, but it was impossible and I didn’t want to damage the car any further. I had no option but to stop and I am very disappointed."