Argentina WRC: Neuville takes lead after Tanak spin
WRC points leader Thierry Neuville has moved into the lead of Rally Argentina, the Hyundai driver aided by a spin for erstwhile leader Ott Tanak late on.
Toyota initially looked strong on the Friday afternoon loop, with Kris Meeke leading and Tanak retaking second place from Neuville on SS6.
Meeke’s stint at the front ended on the Amboy – Yacanto stage, which was being run for the first time as SS7 after being cancellation on the morning loop, as he dropped nearly 20s to his rivals who had a higher road order position and fell to fourth place.
Tanak strengthened his lead with a second consecutive stage win but was then losing time to Neuville on SS8, before a spin only a few corners from the finish line caused further time loss.
A broken driveshaft was pointed to as the cause of the spin by Tanak at the end of the stage.
Tanak lost 24.8s lost relative to Neuville, dropping him 13.4s off the rally lead and promoting Ogier to second place, 1.5s ahead of Tanak.
Behind fourth-placed Meeke, who is now 28.1s behind Neuville up front, Hyundai pair Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo were locked in a close battle for fifth.
Both Mikkelsen and Sordo leapt ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala to take fifth and sixth respectively, with the third Toyota slowed by a right-rear puncture.
Sordo then grabbed fifth on SS7 but a poor time on SS8 demoted him back to seventh, usurped by both Mikkelsen and Elfyn Evans in the lead M-Sport Ford.
Latvala’s position remains unclear after a marshalling mix-up, instigated by an accident for Esapekka Lappi, whose heavily damaged Citroen C3 could not be moved off-road.
A red flag was waved from the side of the road for Latvala but no subsequent drivers, leading him to finish the stage at a reduced speed while those behind went through unaffected.
Latvala’s time was 1m42.6s slower than Neuville’s stage-winning benchmark, dropping to ninth behind Teemu Suninen. However, some of that time loss was also down to a spin after hitting a bank.
A nominal time for Latvala moved him up to eighth ahead of Suninen, 1m13s off the lead.
With Lappi crashing out, Citroen WRC2 driver Mads Ostberg is now 10th overall.
Standings after SS8:
Argentina WRC: Meeke grabs early lead from Neuville
Toyota drivers escape rally-ending issues in Argentina