Citroen’s Kris Meeke survived a puncture to lead Rally Argentina, having capitalized on Sebastien Ogier’s earlier exit, but Jari-Matti Latvala has halved his lead.
Ogier retired on the day’s opening special stage, as an engine problem caused his VW Polo to stutter to halt 5km before the finish. Ogier rejoins tomorrow under Rally2 rules, but he loses seven minutes of penalty time for every stage he misses.
Meeke inherited the lead, but struck problems of his own on SS3, with a right-rear puncture.
“We were having quite a good run until then,” said Meeke. “That’s the way it goes here.”
Volkswagen's Latvala, who was 34s down on Meeke after SS2, reported his mood as “generally good” as he gained 18.6s on the Northern Irishman on SS3. The gap between them is now 15.3s, with three more stages left to run today.
Mads Ostberg is third for Citroen, 20.9s off the lead, ahead of the M-Sport Fords of Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans.
Rivals collide on stage
There were more problems for VW, however, when Andreas Mikkelsen broke his suspension on SS3, and was hit from behind by Hyundai’s Thierry Neville as he crawled along.
Mikkelsen fumed about radio restrictions that have been imposed on crews, and said it highlighted a safety issue.
“The damper came through (the bonnet), so I had to take it really slowly,” said Mikkelsen. “Thanks to the regulations, I couldn’t radio my team to warn them, and Thierry came through and couldn't see me – so he hit me. It could cause a major accident.”
Neuville admitted he actually did it deliberately to get him out of the way: "Andreas was in front of me driving very slowly so I had to give him a push. It's no fun at all. This is more like Dakar!"
Dani Sordo is sixth in his Hyundai, but has lost his power steering, which meant driving through the stages was “really hard”.