As Rally Argentina got underway today, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia delivered another impressive performance behind the wheel of their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.
Despite their strong championship position putting them at a disadvantage opening the road, the Frenchmen limited the potential time loss to stay in contention for a strong result with two immensely challenging days remaining.
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“It’s been a day of ups and downs in Villa Carlos Paz. Sébastien and Julien have delivered another strong performance – setting the fastest time on the opening stage and then limiting the time loss as their road position became a more challenging factor. They’ve kept themselves in contention for a good result and we all know that they can never be discounted.
“It’s fair to say that Elfyn and Dan have really struggled today. They seem happy with their driving, but something just hasn’t clicked for them. We need to understand why that is, and help them get back on track tomorrow.
“Teemu has had a really solid day and we have to remember that this is his first time here. He’s kept out of trouble, and I’m sure he has learnt a lot that he can apply in the future. He is always learning and always analysing areas for improvement.”
OGIER AND INGRASSIA
Minimising the potential time loss as the first car on the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have completed the first day of Rally Argentina in fifth place overall.
Somewhat surprisingly, the French pairing were at an advantage through today’s opening speed test – making the most of the dust that hindered their opponents and posting the fastest time through the 16.65 kilometre stage.
But as the day progressed, Ogier inevitably suffered – sweeping a clean line through the loose gravel with nothing to quell the advantage of his rivals behind.
Another impressive performance has however kept the five-time World Champions in contention for a strong result – their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC just over 10 seconds shy of the podium positions.
SS1: 3rd (+0.4)
SS3: 7th (+17.8)
SS4: 7th (+10.2)
SS5: 5th (+3.0)
SS6: 3rd (+9.2)
SS7: 7th (+14.0)
SS8: 8th (+8.7)
Sébastien Ogier (5th) said:
“It was an excellent day for us and I couldn’t do much more in terms of driving. We didn’t make any mistakes and I really tried to push as much as I could. Ott [Tänak] is flying and did a great job, but other than that we’re still in the fight for second place – despite opening the road.”
EVANS AND BARRITT
Reunited at this weekend’s Rally Argentina, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt have thus far struggled to find the perfect rhythm through Argentina’s demanding terrain.
The pairing suffered from the worst of the hanging dust through the opening speed test, but were unable to turn their later road position into an advantage as the competition continued.
Staying clear of trouble, the pairing have piloted their EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC to ninth place, but will be determined on climbing the leader board and getting back into their stride tomorrow.
SS1: 11th (+2.2)
SS2: 8th (+17.2)
SS3: 9th (+19.9)
SS4: 8th (+11.2)
SS5: 2nd (+1.1)
SS6: 6th (+13.6)
SS7: 8th (+16.6)
SS8: 10th (+15.4)
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
“For sure it has been a difficult day for us. On the whole I felt that the driving wasn’t particularly bad, but the times just haven’t been there. We need to understand why that is and do better tomorrow.”
SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
Contesting Rally Argentina for the very first time this weekend, Teemu Suninen adapted an intelligent approach to this notoriously difficult event.
With his later running order dragging more and more rally-ending rocks onto the racing line, the young Finn chose his rhythm wisely – getting his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC safely through the stages and noting areas to improve his driving.
Guided by the experience of compatriot co-driver Mikko Markkula, Suninen has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience with which to progress as the event continues.
SS1: 7th (+1.4)
SS2: 9th (+20.5)
SS3: 10th (+25.4)
SS4: 10th (+14.6)
SS5: 6th (+3.1)
SS6: 8th (+18.7)
SS7: 10th (+23.0)
SS8: 9th (+13.9)
Teemu Suninen (10th) said:
“It hasn’t been the easiest day in the car, but we have learnt a lot. We were able to improve the driving a bit today, but we need to improve more to be faster and challenge for the podium. The main things we need to look at are the braking style and corner entries. Hopefully if we can improve one, it will be like a domino effect and the other will improve too. So let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1:30:38.6
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen DS3 WRC) +22.7
3. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +28.6
4. Dani Sordo / Carlos del Barrio (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +29.5
5. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +36.4
6. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen DS3 WRC) +41.2
7. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +58.5
8. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1:07.9
9. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:10.3
10. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:33.7