Argentina WRC: Tanak doubles lead on Saturday morning

Toyota's Ott Tanak took a step closer to his first win of the season after extending his lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville on Rally Argentina’s Saturday morning loop.

Argentina WRC: Tanak doubles lead on Saturday morning
Ott Tanak, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Ott Tanak, Martin Järveoja, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai Motorsport, Thierry Neuville
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team

Tanak extended his streak of stage wins on a foggy loop to six in a row as no one had the pace to live with him aboard his Yaris WRC.

For most of the loop, Neuville trailed Citroen’s Kris Meeke until the penultimate stage, where the Belgian jumped ahead for second.

Meeke described that test, Chuchilla Nevada - Rio Pintos, as “one of the most difficult you could do in a rally car”, mainly down to the fog where visibility was as low as 20 metres in places.

Neuville’s only issue was a pacenote mix-up 750 metres from the end of SS10, but he still went second quickest on that test.

He also beat Meeke on the super special SS12, which ended the morning loop, to hold a gap of 10.1s ahead of the Northern Irishman.

Dani Sordo continued a consistent drive to hold fourth for Hyundai, and lies within 20s of Meeke.

Sebastien Ogier is fifth, in a steady drive for the five-time WRC champion, who was 54s slower than Tanak on the penultimate stage of the loop but didn’t report any issues.

After going slower than Sordo on the loop-ending super special, Ogier trails the Spaniard by 41.4s.

Craig Breen, Meeke’s Citroen teammate, had held sixth but on SS11 he crashed heavily and dropped to 14th.

Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen replaced Breen in sixth, and holds a gap of 7.7s ahead of M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans.

Esapekka Lappi crashed on SS11 after a pacenote mistake and holds ninth, falling half a minute behind Evans, but ahead of third M-Sport driver Teemu Suninen.

After an incredible stage time on SS11, 17-year-old Kalle Rovanpera took the WRC2 category lead from reigning champion and Skoda teammate Pontus Tidemand.

Rovanpera’s time was 28.7s quicker than Tidemand in that test, and after the super special he leads the class for R5 machinery by 23.6s.

Standings after SS12:

Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
1  Ott Tanak Toyota 2h17m.08.1s
2  Thierry Neuville Hyundai 42.2s
3  Kris Meeke Citroen 52.3s
4  Dani Sordo Hyundai 1m08.6s
5  Sebastien Ogier M-Sport Ford 1m50.0s
6  Andreas Mikkelsen Hyundai 1m57.6s
7  Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford 2m05.3s
8  Esapekka Lappi Toyota 2m34.6s
9  Teemu Suninen M-Sport Ford 3m10.4s
10  Kalle Rovanpera Skoda 8m49.4s
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