Sébastien Ogier was the early leader of XION Rally Argentina after winning Thursday night’s curtain-raising super special stage in Merlo.Huge crowds packed the town centre as the rally visited there for the first time and they watched Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R outpace team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and Citroen’s Kris Meeke by two-tenths of a second.
“It’s going to be a long weekend with some very tough stages but that’s the same for everyone,” said the Frenchman.
Jari-Matti Latvala was just a tenth further back in fourth with Hyundai team-mates Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville completing the top six in their i20 World Rally Cars. Just 1.1sec split the sextet.
Conditions were slippery in the mixed surface test with hanging dust adding an extra challenge for drivers.
None of the top competitors had any issues, but WRC 2 front-runner Nicolas Fuchs suffered water pump problems in his Ford Fiesta R5 on the liaison section to the stage and reported high engine temperatures following the test.
Drivers had a marathon 233km link section back to the rally base in Villa Carlos Paz for the overnight halt. They restart at 06.30 tomorrow for two identical loops of two stages before a super special near the town, a total of 149.44km of competition.
Top ten SS1:
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