Leg 3 News Carlos Sainz (Citroen) cruised through the leg to win by 1min 32.5sec and become the most successful rally driver in history. This was his 26th world rally victory, edging one ahead of ex-Ford driver Colin McRae. ...
Leg 3 News
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) cruised through the leg to win by 1min 32.5sec and become the most successful rally driver in history. This was his 26th world rally victory, edging one ahead of ex-Ford driver Colin McRae. Team-mate Sebastien Loeb was second to extend his championship lead to 17 points. Behind Duval, Mikko Hirvonen (Subaru), Harri Rovanperä (Peugeot) and Argentine private entrant Luiz Perez Companc maintained their overnight placings. Gilles Panizzi (Mitsubishi) completed his recovery after first day problems to finish back in the drivers' points in seventh.
Rallying history will state that Carlos Sainz claimed his 26th career victory with the Xsara. Already holding the record for the number of World Rally event starts (187) and for the most podium finishes (91), Carlos has now taken the lead in terms of the number of victories, which he shared until now with Colin McRae.
That this triumph should take place in a Spanish-speaking country, in front of huge crowds of spectators, entirely won over to his cause, in a rally he only just failed to win last year, added an emotional element to the event.
Forty seven of the original 69 starters left parc ferme at 0757hrs today to begin the third and final Leg of Rally Argentina.
Leg 3 comprised 84.96 competitive kilometres and five stages based around Carlos Paz and the Translasierra Valley 120km south west of the service park.
Weather conditions remained dry and bright all day. The temperature in the service area started at 3º Celsius and peaked at 23º Celsius. Stage surfaces for Leg 3 were a mixture of hard packed earth with some soft, sandier sections.
With a one-two in Argentina, Citroën claimed one of the results which really count in the life of a team. After an extremely difficult event, Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti finished in first place, with Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena in second; the rally will definitely be one to remember ^Ö for a number of reasons.
Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "Last year, during these last three rallies, Greece, Turkey and Argentina, I retired three times. This year, in the same events, I have managed a win and two second places. As far as my game plan is concerned, I am well ahead^Å"
Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: Carlos found it difficult to hide his emotion: "This victory has a special flavour. It is undeniably one of the most important wins of my career. I am proud to have claimed, at the age of forty-two, a victory for which it was necessary to fight relentlessly. A win that I really had to ^Ñgo and get'. It is a true victory, and I am grateful to the whole Citroën team for allowing me to claim it by giving me a truly perfect Xsara !" And as Carlos will continue to be the man who never gives up, he was quick to add, as a conclusion : "It will not be the last !"
Mikko Hirvonen recorded the best WRC result of his young career today by finishing fourth on Rally Argentina. The 23-year-old Finnish star pushed hard all day in his Subaru Impreza WRC2004, regularly beating the times of other far more experienced drivers. Setting top-three times on all of the day's five stages, Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen rounded off a successful weekend by claiming their first loose-surface stage win on the tricky SS24 section.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: Retired
Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: "Those last two stages were very difficult and narrow, and I had to take it steady to the end. Both Saturday and Sunday were very good and it was great to be fighting for a potential podium place. The car was excellent and the team and tyres have worked very well. I've really enjoyed this rally with so many different conditions it has a bit of everything. I'm looking forward to Finland where it's going to be much quicker and I'll try to continue to challenge the leaders."
Ford BP Rallye Sport drivers François Duval and Stéphane Prévot claimed their third podium finish of the season when they finished third on the Rally Argentina today. Their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car avoided the serious problems which hindered the challenge of many of their rivals on this demanding eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, allowing the Belgians to claim their fifth points finish of the campaign.
Markko Martin / Michael Park: Retired
Francios Duval / Stefan Prevot: "It's a great result for the team, especially after Markko's bad crash," he said. "The car hasn't been so easy to drive but we've had no real problems and I made no mistakes. The roads were difficult, especially yesterday and today. There were many new stages for me as it's only my second time here so I've not pushed too hard and I'm delighted to be on the podium. It's incredible to see the huge crowds and it's been great to drive in front of so many people. The first stage this morning was awful. The sun was so low that visibility was poor and, even with three-minute gaps between cars, there was so much dust hanging in the air that it was difficult to see. Because I was driving cautiously, I felt I was driving badly. I wasn't happy with my driving this morning but I had to continue to be careful," he added.
Harri Rovanpera has finished the Rally of Argentina in fifth place, scoring valuable points for himself and Peugeot Sport. The Finn was hampered by the failure of his power steering pump throughout four stages of the rally's opening leg. He dropped several minutes, and despite many high-profile retirements, Harri was never able to recover from the time lost. A fighting drive on the second day saw Harri climb back to fifth position, but the gap to the cars in front was too big to enable him to make up more places on the final day.
1Marcus Gronhölm / Timo Rautiainen: Retired
Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen: "It was just a question of getting to the finish today," said Harri. "After the problem on the opening day our car gave us no trouble at all for the rest of the rally, so I am very frustrated by the thought of what we might have achieved here. We were conscious that we had to get to the finish, so there was no point in taking any risks and we tried to drive as cleanly as possible. But I'm looking forward to the next rally in Finland, which is my home event. We've done quite a lot of testing, and the car has definitely improved a lot."
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Gilles and Hervé Panizzi scored points in Rally Argentina, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The French crew piloted their Lancer WRC04 to seventh position, having dropped to 18th during the opening leg of competition. As a consequence, they score points for themselves and Mitsubishi in both championships. Team-mates Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj Lindström failed to restart this morning after the team identified an engine-related problem on their Lancer WRC04 late last night. The crew lost drive in stage 19 and although the transmission and relevant engine components could have been changed to get them back out for the final leg, there was simply insufficient time to complete the work to the standard required.
Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi: "I am very happy for the team that we are driving over the podium, everyone has worked extremely hard for this", commented Gilles. "If you look at the results, the only team to have both its cars at the finish is Citroën; all the other manufacturers also only got one car to the finish. This year^Òs event was very very difficult, but Kristian was fifth and would have been fourth yesterday. We have something to be pleased about".
Kristian Sohlberg / Kaj Lindström: Retired
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver "Dani" Solà claimed his second FIA Production Car World Rally Championship victory of the season in Rally Argentina this afternoon. The Spaniard^Òs win represents the fourth from four starts for Lancer Evolution drivers, who also finished second and third in the fourth round of their series. Solà extends his lead in the Championship after an impressive drive that saw him finish one minute 11.1 seconds ahead of Jani Paasonen in similar machinery. Subaru placed cars fourth and sixth.