Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera is fifth after leg two of the Rally Argentina. His team mate Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire from the lead on SS19 after hitting a rock and damaging his car. Today's action, to the south of rally headquarters...
Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera is fifth after leg two of the Rally Argentina. His team mate Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire from the lead on SS19 after hitting a rock and damaging his car.
Today's action, to the south of rally headquarters in Villa Carlos Paz, consisted of nine stages including a loop of four stages run consecutively this morning. The gravel stages were loose and slippery, testing each driver's capabilities to the limit. Although the weather was once more cold and cloudy, conditions remained dry throughout today's 129 competitive kilometres.
Harri started the day in eighth place, after losing time with power steering problems yesterday. But he fought back to end today's leg in a strong fifth place after a fast and trouble-free run.
He said: "Today's stages were amongst the most difficult of the entire rally. In the morning it was extremely slippery and it was a constant struggle to keep the car under control. In the afternoon we tried to settle into a rhythm in order to keep a fast and consistent pace. But with the time that we lost yesterday, it was always going to be a struggle. Now it's a question of continuing to push, but we also have to make sure we bring back some points."
Marcus started the day with an eight-second lead, but set four fastest times to extend his lead to 12 seconds by SS18. Unfortunately he hit a rock 11 kilometres into the following stage that damaged a wheel, and the resulting engine damage eventually put him out of the rally. He said: " There was a right hand corner with a rock sticking out of the bank, which we didn't have marked in our notes. That took the wheel off, but we still could have finished the stage with three wheels. Unfortunately, the damage to the suspension also damaged the driveshaft, which broke the timing belt. So the engine stopped and
there was nothing more we could do. I think we were a bit unlucky: I was going at a comfortable pace today, which is why it is so disappointing to go out of the rally under these circumstances. On the positive side, we had a very good feeling with the car throughout the rally and it's clear that that team has made a lot of progress."
Tomorrow's final leg of the Rally Argentina is the shortest of the event, consisting of five special stages. However, they include the two most famous and challenging stages of the rally, El Condor and Giulio Cesare.