Marcus Gronholm has fought like a lion throughout the opening leg of the Rally Argentina, which made up almost 50% of the total competitive distance. Marcus finishes the leg third in his Peugeot 307 WRC, and has promised to push hard again...
Marcus Gronholm has fought like a lion throughout the opening leg of the Rally Argentina, which made up almost 50% of the total competitive distance. Marcus finishes the leg third in his Peugeot 307 WRC, and has promised to push hard again tomorrow. An improved tyre choice for the second loop of stages today allowed him to set a fastest time, as well as three second-fastest times. His team mate Markko Martin, who climbed up to fifth by midday, dropped a place in the afternoon and ends leg one sixth overnight.
No fewer than 40,000 spectators flocked to the rally start on Thursday night, which was marked by two runs through the asphalt spectator superspecial located permanently near rally headquarters in Villa Carlos Paz. Marcus won the opening superspecial but this was a mere prelude to the real action that started today, comprising 156 competitive kilometres split over eight special stages. After the summery heat at the beginning of the week, Argentina's winter returned with a vengeance. The temperature dropped a dozen degrees in the space of 24 hours, with heavy overnight rain dampening the stages. Against all expectations, the crews were greeted by waterlogged roads, which were particularly muddy for the opening stage of the morning. Both Peugeot drivers made the same tyre choice for each loop, selecting soft tyres for the morning and a slightly harder compound in the afternoon.
Marcus Gronholm: "I cannot really be happy with today – I hoped to fight for the lead here and although we set some quick times that has not really happened. I can definitely think of some things we can do to improve the car, and I hope that will help our progress tomorrow. There is still a long way to go and this is a rally that I like so let's see what is possible. I've certainly been pushing hard today and I don't intend to give up easily."
Markko Martin: "Today has been extremely tough. Our road position has meant that we've had to deal with some very rough surface conditions and massive ruts. The afternoon's loop of stages, used for the second time, was really hard work. On the positive side, we've had no problems with the car and we've got every chance of improving our position over the remaining two legs."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "It's been a day with no mechanical dramas, but we are disappointed by our performance on slippery surfaces – despite the fact that we have clearly made some progress compared to recent events. Our car still seems to require a very specialised driving style. Marcus fought hard all day and would certainly have deserved to finish second this evening, behind an untouchable Sebastien Loeb. Nonetheless, with a better tyre choice for the second loop of stages, Marcus has come away with a fastest time and three second-fastest times."