OGIER-INGRASSIA HOLD SECOND IN THE C3 WRC
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a consistent performance on the opening leg’s wet, muddy stages, using all their race craft to end day one in second position in their C3 WRC, just 11.9s off the lead. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm escaped unhurt from an off, which nonetheless prevented them from showing all of their potential.
With the heavy rain that had fallen around Villa Carlos Paz in the last few days, the145.92 kilometres of today’s first full leg promised to provide constantly changing grip levels on roads featuring plenty of standing water and puddles at best and turned into genuine mud baths at worst. The state of the roads made it all the more important for the drivers to read the conditions as best they could in order to constantly adapt their pace. And although the first run on Amboy – Yacanto (29.85km) was cancelled for safety reasons, this opening leg more than lived up to expectations.
Right in the mix (2nd) on yesterday evening’s super special stage held in Villa Carlos Paz, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were hampered by running second on the road on the opening test as the grip improved as more cars came through the stage. However, the six-time world champions then upped their game, setting the third fastest time and then finishing tied for second on the next stage, concluding the morning loop third overall. On these fast roads, littered with embedded rocks, they confirmed their good form in the C3 WRC in the afternoon to move up into second position, just 11.9s behind the leaders. They are therefore very well placed once again to challenge for the overall win.
Having set a promising fifth fastest time on today’s first stage (SS2), unfortunately Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were then caught out straight afterwards (SS3) in a very low-grip section hidden behind a crest. The crew ran wide into a bank, picking up a puncture. After their misfortune saw them drop down to ninth overall, they were continuing to learn about the event on what is only their second appearance here when sadly, they rolled on the final stage of the day. Fortunately, they were unharmed in the incident. However, they will not be able to rejoin the rally tomorrow as their car is too damaged.
Next up, the crews tackle the longest leg of the weekend tomorrow (146.52km), with roads that are expected to be easier to negotiate than today.
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“In the incredibly changeable grip conditions seen today, we’re obviously pleased that Sébastien and Julien have ended the day in second position. We’re now going to get on with preparing as effectively as possible for tomorrow’s leg, in order to give them the tools to keep fighting for the win. We are however disappointed for Esapekka and Janne, who deserved better than this off, which appears to have come after they picked up a puncture. The most important thing is that they are both okay. I’m sure they’ll bounce back from this very quickly.”
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“The opening leg at Rally Argentina is always very complicated and rough. I’m pleased to finish the day in this position. It was all the more difficult because we did recce on these stages before the rain fell. We fought as hard as possible, and although the car isn't running perfectly as yet, we’re still in contention for victory and it’s still open at the front. The second leg looks like it will be very difficult again, probably with fog early on, as is often the case on these stages.”
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:11:13.9
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +11.9
- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.4
- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 28.1
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 29.4
- Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 38.2
- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +41.1
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:13.6
- Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:59.2
- Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +6:11.1
media.citroenracing.com Photo credit: @World
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