Weather: Clear blue skies and slightly damp stages after rain on the previous two days. On the stages, temperatures ranged between -2C in the morning and 11C in the afternoon. Petter Solberg achieved a podium result on today's final Leg of Rally...
Weather: Clear blue skies and slightly damp stages after rain on the previous two days. On the stages, temperatures ranged between -2C in the morning and 11C in the afternoon.
Petter Solberg achieved a podium result on today's final Leg of Rally Argentina. The Norwegian was fastest on two of the day's five stages, and brought his Subaru Impreza WRC2005 over the finish ramp in third place to collect six Championship points and maintain his second place in the 2005 WRC series. On his Rally Argentina debut, Chris Atkinson enjoyed another trouble-free run in his Impreza and finished ninth overall, to earn a Championship point in the Manufacturers' contest.
SS18: 0830hrs El C=F3ndor - Copina (16.82km)
The final Leg of Rally Argentina took crews 80km west of the Carlos Paz service park and into the high mountains of Cordoba Province. Starting at 2,122 metres above sea level, the old road from El Condor to Copina is the highest of the event and is famed for its barren, lunar-like landscape. Before dawn, thousands of spectators braved the freezing temperatures and headed into the mountains to secure the best vantage points on the rocky outcrops that lined the stage. With so many people in the area, organisers delayed the start by 20-minutes for safety reasons. Once underway, rally leader Sebastien Loeb set the quickest time, closely followed by Petter Solberg, Gigi Galli, Harri Rovanpera and Marcus Gronholm. Remarkably, after more than 13 minutes of driving, less than three seconds separated the top five times. As a result, there were no significant gains or losses on the overall leaderboard and crews made their way directly to the start of SS19. Fastest Stage Time: Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 13:45.5
SS19: 1010hrs Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare (24.45km)
Special stage 19 started from the small town of Mina Clavero in the Valle de Translasierra, 'the valley behind the hills'. Similar in many respects to El Condor, but a climb instead of a descent, the stage began at 976 metres above sea level and finished at an altitude of 2,060 metres. Ford's Toni Gardemeister was fastest, his first stage win of the rally, with Harri Rovanpera second and Loeb third. Subaru's young charger Chris Atkinson was sixth, only 4.3sec slower than his team-mate Solberg. After his excellent time on the previous stage, Gigi Galli lost around 33sec with a transmission problem. Already competing under the Superally system following a transmission-related retirement on Leg one, Galli's rally finally came to an end on the road section after the stage. Fastest Stage Time: Gardemeister (Ford) 19:48.4
SS20: 1057hrs El C=F3ndor - Copina 2 (16.82km)
As the final day of competition ended with the short Superspecial at Pro-Racing, the repeated pass through El Condor was effectively the last chance for drivers to make any real impact on the timesheets. Petter Solberg was quickest, with Harri Rovanpera second and Toni Gardemeister third. There were no upsets for any of the three leading drivers, whose places were cushioned by at least 29sec. The battle for fourth place was still alive however, and Rovanpera pushed hard to try and overturn Gardemeister's 8.3sec pre-stage advantage. After the 16km section, Rovanpera had narrowed the gap by only 0.5sec. Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 13:36.8
SS21/SS22: 1305hrs Super Especial Complejo Pro-Racing (3.02km)
The rally concluded with a return trip to the Superspecial stage at the Pro-racing complex. In front of more than 30,000 spectators, and broadcast live to a worldwide television audience, crews tackled the sandy 3km stage two at a time as SS21, before swapping lanes and repeating the course as SS22. The duelling pair of Rovanpera and Gardemeister took their battle right to the wire, but even though Harri was fastest on the first pass, Gardemeister's lead proved too much. The stage win on SS22 went to Petter Solberg who brought his Impreza to the finish ramp in third place, to collect six Championship points. Marcus Gronholm finished second, while Sebastien Loeb drove his Xsara safety around the track to clinch the overall win, and break his own WRC record with a sixth consecutive victory this year. Fastest Stage Time: Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) 2:09.3 / Solberg (Subaru) 2:08.9
Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth
Petter finished the event with a bit of a flourish giving us some encouragement for the next couple of gravel events. For Petter it has been a tough event of ups and downs. He set some impressive times, but unfortunately when the battle is so close, the couple of incidents that cost him time were decisive. Chris has put in a really good and solid performance. He's driven exceptionally well on were some of the trickiest conditions of the season and regularly traded times with the established stars. He's made good progress and should be looking forward to pushing them even harder in Finland.
Today we made a couple of changes and they seemed to work well. While it's a good result, it was the couple of problems we had that made the difference. Overall I'm happy, it's been a hard weekend and the team did a very good job. I'll be fighting for the win in Finland and, as since it is so close to Norway, a lot of fans will be watching. It will be a tough fight, but I'm looking forward to it and I've every confidence that we'll come back again - no problem!
The pace all weekend has been good and I'm pleased that, since there have been so few retirements, I can set good times against the top guys while still driving comfortably. You need experience in Argentina to go fast, so the weekend has been all about getting confidence. I've had no problems with the car all weekend and the tyre choices have been pretty good. I'm now going to Finland understanding the car a lot more and, since I've done that event before, I'm hopeful of building upon what we learnt here.
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Today Petter made good use of the rubber available to him, which resulted in a fastest stage time on one of the most demanding stages of the entire rally. Throughout the event we are happy that our tyres were competitive and that we were able to give all our drivers the best possible opportunity to push to the limit."