M-SPORT YOUNGSTERS ASCEND ARGENTINE LEADERBOARD
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s young stars recovered well over the second day of competition at the 2012 Philips Rally Argentina. Setting some impressive times, Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tänak now lie 11th and 17th going into the final day.
Recuperating their previous good form, Novikov and co-driver Denis Giraudet set a string of top-ten times over the opening loop. Despite adopting a cautious approach, the longest stage of the day, Intiyaco-Golpe De Agua, certainly played into the hands of the young Russian. Opening out into a high speed section, the 39.74 km test saw Novikov back to maximum attack behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Fully on the limiter for the final two kilometres, the pairing overcame their early road position to set the fifth fastest time and climb from 17th to 12th in the process.
Working on making their pacenotes as detailed as possible, the pairing continued to climb the leaderboard through the afternoon. Following a series of consistent times, Novikov lies 11th and will be hoping to salvage some points as the crews embark on the final day of competition and the daunting pass over the 65.74 km of Matadero.
Also recovering well, Ott Tänak and co-driver Kuldar Sikk were back to their best over the morning tests. In spite of being disadvantaged running first on the road and having to sweep the stages as the Argentine sun rose over the Calamuchita Valley, the Estonian pairing piloted their Ford Fiesta RS WRC to the fourth fastest time on all three stages. Gaining almost eight minutes on his closest rivals, Tänak climbed four places from 27th to 23rd over the opening loop.
Continuing his assault through the afternoon, Tänak impressed once more. Rising to the challenge, the youngster managed to keep his stage times in touch with the leaders and will re-start his charge in 17th place tomorrow.
Evgeny Novikov (11th) said:
“We have been taking it really cautiously today as we don’t have a lot to gain. We have been working on making our pacenotes as detailed as possible and we now have a lot of detail in the notes for the long stage [SS9 & SS12] which will hopefully be a big advantage for us next year.
“We have the really long stage to run tomorrow [SS14] so we just have to make it to the end of the rally and get the best result we can.”
Ott Tänak (17th) said:
“For sure today has been a lot better than yesterday! We set some good times in the morning and I have had a good feeling in the car. The road position hasn’t been ideal, but today has just been about getting through the stages.
“We had to write completely new pacenotes for this rally so we are just using the remaining stages to develop the notes and get as much experience of the stages as we can.”