Cordoba-Villa Carlos Paz
SS1: Loeb takes opening honours in Argentina
Stage data: SS1, Super Special Carlos Paz 1 (3.02 kilometres)
By Petter Solberg World Rally Team co-driver Chris Patterson: “It’s not representative of the rally at all really but it’s really good fun. It’s quite twisty with a lot of big jumps. It’s on a manufactured surface so it’s fairly hard and sturdy ground. We do the stage two times on the rally so the first run will be a good practice for the second run on Sunday morning. We’ll take it absolutely seriously - it’s only three kilometres but it’s very important.”
How the action unfolded:
Sebastien Loeb’s bid to win Rally Argentina for the sixth time has got off to the perfect start after the Citroen DS3 WRC star went fastest on the opening stage, the Super Special Carlos Paz.
Using a spectacular, undulating route in the hills above the rally’s host town, the action thrilled the tens of thousands of fans who flocked to witness the opening exchanges on round six of the World Rally Championship as drivers battled in pairs over the gravel test.
After going 0.9s faster than Petter Solberg through the stage, Loeb said: “It’s only the start, there’s a long way to go over three days and one second is nothing. But I’m happy for the start and we will see tomorrow what we can do [running first on the road]. The stage was very nice for a super stage.”
Solberg, at the wheel of a privateer DS3 WRC, said: “The stage is as important as everything else. I’m on a mission after the [driveshaft] problems I had in shakedown. This is a good start - I’m here for a good finish.”
Sebastien Ogier was third fastest with Jari-Matti Latvala next up. The Finn has a new gearbox fitted in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after the original failed during shakedown.
He admitted his lack of running this morning hampered him slightly on the opening stage: “It was a bit difficult at the start and the feeling didn’t feel so good. But the grip was surprisingly good and I get the feeling for the driving.”
Latvala’s team-mate Mikko Hirvonen went up against Loeb. Despite dropping time to his French rival, he said he had thoroughly enjoyed the stage: “It’s the best superspecial in the world. Okay I’ve not done the best and I’ve lost some time to Sebastien but I’ve got three days to make it up.”
Home hero Federico Villagra was sixth fastest with Yuriy Protasov heading the Production Car World Rally Championship runners in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
Crews are now returning to Villa Carlos Paz prior to Friday’s restart.
Sebastien Loeb takes early lead for Citroen.