Undisputed World Rally king Sebastien Ogier began his quest for a first-ever victory on Rally Argentina by winning the opening superspecial stage.
Ogier was quickest around the Merlo city stage on 2m32.0s, two tenths of a second faster in his Volkswagen Polo than Citroen’s Kris Meeke and VW teammate Andreas Mikkelsen.
Last year’s winner Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth quickest in the third Polo, with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo in fifth, already a second down on Ogier.
To get to the stage and back to Rally HQ at Villa Carlos Paz, crews had to endure an eight-hour, almost-500km round trip to Merlo for a 2m32s, 2.68km stage.
Cars ran two at a time, starting 15s apart around two laps of a 1.34km loop containing a jump, tight hairpins and fast straights – 75 per cent asphalt and 25 per gravel.
“It’s going to be a long weekend,” said Ogier, who has 27 WRC event wins but none in Argentina. “Definitely there will be some cleaning to do [as he runs first on the road on the gravel stages ahead], but I want to win it but no more than any other rally.”