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    Cool WRC Argentina Apr 27-29 talk/results spoiler**

    Round 5 - WRC Argentina 27-29 Apr



    Argentina, which first hosted a round of the World Rally Championship in 1980, is regarded as one of the toughest events on the WRC trail and the revised competitive route for 2012 will make it the longest since the Safari Rally in 2002 at 503 kilometres.

    Based in Villa Carlos Paz north of the capital Buenos Aires, the town lies on the banks of the spectacular San Roque Lake in the south of the Punilla Valley close to the city of Cordoba.

    The event is popularised by its jumps, water splashes and the lunar landscape of the high altitude El Condor stage, not to mention the tens of thousands of fans who line the route, and who are considered some of the most enthusiastic on the planet.

    Official Website: rallyargentina.com/en/

    Listen Live: worldrallyradio.com/



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    ----------------------------

    News:
    SPEED2 to offer complementary multi-day WRC support programming; Live! streaming MotoGP qualifying also added to SPEED2.

    SPEED and SPEED2 will offer coverage of the 2012 World Rally Championship Series beginning this weekend with same-day delay programming from Rally Argentina on Sunday at 11 p.m. ET, and a replay Monday morning at 7 a.m. ET.

    In addition, SPEED2 -- SPEED’s authenticated broadband network -- will offer WRC fans a chance to catch up on the first four events of the season, while additionally offering 30-minute highlight packages from each day of competition moving forward.

    “This is a great opportunity to deliver a popular race series to the SPEED viewing audience, while at the same time offering complementary programming on SPEED2,” said SPEED President Scott Ackerson. “And after reaching several new carriage deals over the past few weeks, SPEED2 will soon be available to more than 35 million subscribers.”

    The broadcast schedule for the next three WRC races SDD on SPEED (full schedule to be released as scheduled; replays the following mornings):

    • Sunday, Apr 29, 11 p.m. ET (Argentina)
    • Sunday, May 27, 1 a.m. ET (Greece)*
    • Sunday, June 24, 11 p.m. ET (New Zealand)

    World Rally programming on SPEED2 will join a growing lineup of premier racing events on the network, including Saturday’s live qualifying from the MotoGP race in Spain, where Americans Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards battle against the best in the world. For more information on SPEED2, please visit speed2.com/

    SPEED was home to the World Rally Championship Series from 1997 through 2005.

    *Race from Greece is late Sunday night broadcast date; follows Coca-Cola 600 episode of NASCAR Victory Lane



    auto-racing.speedtv.com/article/speed-signs-deal-with-2012-world-rally-championship-series

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    Sebastien Loeb has gone fastest on the Qualifying Stage for Philips Rally Argentina, round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Loeb, the winner in Argentina on the last six occasions, completed the 4.59-kilometre test from Villa Garcia to Cabalango in a time of 2m36.9s to earn the right to select his road position for day one’s stages first.

    The stage was held in wet and slippery conditions with drivers opting for the better-suited soft compound option - of which the Michelin runners have a limited supply - or the hard version, which doesn’t work as well in damp conditions but is Michelin’s nominated option for the rally.

    “It’s slippery but it was not so bad,” said the eight-time world champion, who selected Michelin’s soft compound tyre. “I had a good drive with no mistakes. I was pushing hard.”

    Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was second fastest. He said: “I was equal with Seb but then I made a small mistake and went wide on one corner. It’s going to be my choice for the road position but we will see for the weather.”

    Dani Sordo, who is making a one-off appearance for the factory Ford team in place of the injured Jari-Matti Latvala, was third quickest in his Fiesta RS WRC. “I’m quite happy now, we modified the suspension and it was not so bad,” said the Spaniard, who reported a few handling issues during his two runs of free practice.

    Team-mate Petter Solberg opted to run on Michelin’s hard compound tyre, which provided less grip in the slippery conditions. “I wanted to take care of the [soft] tyres for the rally if it’s raining,” said the Norwegian, who set the fourth best time. “It was very slippery in there with a lot of mud and rain now. But it’s a long rally.”

    Nasser Al-Attiyah reported hitting a tree with the right-rear corner of his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. Martin Prokop reported a misting windscreen in his DMACK-shod Fiesta. The Anglo-Chinese firm has nominated its soft-compound tyre with the hard available as the option tyre.

    Drivers will select their road positions for day one at 13:00hrs local time. The first stage, Super Especial Amarok, goes live at 20:08hrs local time tonight (Thursday).

    click: wrc.com/news/=16560

    Rally Argentina: Qualifying stage:

    1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen WRC - 2mins 36.369secs M
    2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen WRC - +00.759secs M
    3. Dani Sordo Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC - +01.637secs M
    4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC - +03.593s M
    5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC - +03.738s M
    6. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC - +03.756s M
    7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC - +04.357s M
    8. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC - +05.825s M
    9. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC - +06.234sM
    10. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC - +07.016s
    11. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
    12. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC
    13. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
    14. Eliseo Salazar MINI John Cooper Works WRC

    all times unofficial

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    Sebastien Loeb has chosen to run first on the road on the opening day of Philips Rally Argentina amid fears that rain will make for difficult driving conditions, particularly for crews running further down the order.

    Loeb, who starts round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia with a four-point advantage in the 2012 title race, was fastest on this morning’s Qualifying Stage, which earned him the right to pick his starting position ahead of his rival drivers.

    Mikko Hirvonen, who partners Loeb in the Citroen Total World Rally Team, was second fastest in qualifying and has chosen to run second on the road.

    Ford stand-in Dani Sordo was the third driver to choose his starting position but opted to go fourth behind team-mate Petter Solberg in an effort to give the Norwegian the best possible chance of winning in South America.

    Solberg is second in the drivers’ championship and will benefit from a slightly higher starting position, particularly if the rain will lead to the stage surface deteriorating through continued use.

    Thierry Neuville completes the top five starters in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC. The Belgian is competing in Argentina for the first time. Armindo Araujo will be the leading MINI starter in 11th position. Ex-Formula One driver Eliseo Salazar goes 14th in his MINI.

    The full running order for day one is as follows:

    1 Sebastien Loeb

    2 Mikko Hirvonen

    3 Petter Solberg

    4 Dani Sordo

    5 Thierry Neuville

    6 Mads Ostberg

    7 Ott Tanak

    8 Evgeny Novikov

    9 Nasser Al-Attiyah

    10 Martin Prokop

    11 Armindo Araujo

    12 Daniel Oliveira

    13 Paulo Nobre

    14 Eliseo Salazar

    click: wrc.com/news/=16563

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    Video from qualifying stage: wrc.com/video/argentina-2012-quali-stage

    -----------------------------

    SS1: Opening stage honours for Solberg



    Stage data: SS1, Super Especial Amarok 1 (6.04 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg leads Philips Rally Argentina after going quickest on the event’s first stage in Villa Carlos Paz.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg clocked a time of 4m54.9s through the 6.04-kilometre test. Solberg, from Norway, went up against Sebastien Loeb, the man he trails by four points in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Solberg selected Michelin’s soft compound tyre while Loeb opted for the hard compound version. Solberg was fastest by 3.6s ahead of stand-in team-mate Dani Sordo, while Loeb dropped 10.2s and was seventh fastest in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    “It feels good,” Solberg said. “A tricky stage to start off with so maybe we were too careful.”

    Loeb said: “It was a really bad tyre choice; it felt very slippery.”

    Vodafone Rally de Portugal winner Mads Ostberg was third quickest in his Adapta Fiesta. M-Sport Ford team-mates Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak shared the fourth fastest time with Citroen Junior Thierry Neuville sixth and Sebastien Ogier seventh in his Super 2000-specification Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia.

    Behind eighth-placed Loeb, Armindo Araujo was ninth quickest in his WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works WRC with Andreas Mikkelsen 10th in his Fabia.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah lost ground when he spun his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen. He was 13th fastest, one position ahead of leading Production Car World Rally Championship runner and top local driver Marcos Ligato.

    The action resumes with stage two, Fernet 1882 La Pampa/La Pampa, which gets underway at 07:28hrs local time on Friday morning and measures 37.51 kilometres in length.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss1



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    Friday

    SS2: Loeb fastest on opener




    Stage data: SS2, Fernet 1882 La Pampa/La Pampa (37.51 kilometres)

    Sebastien Loeb has hit back in his bid to win Philips Rally Argentina after going quickest on Friday’s opening stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Loeb dropped time on Thursday night’s superspecial in Villa Carlos Paz and was down in eighth position at the overnight halt.

    Running first on the road, Loeb, the winner in Argentina on six previous occasions, took 23m12.5s to complete stage two, despite spinning at the midpoint of the run.

    “I had a little spin in the middle of the stage in a hairpin and had to reverse and start again,” said Loeb, who climbs to second overall. “I had a really good drive apart from the problem in the middle.”

    Petter Solberg continues to lead overall after dropping 1.9s to Loeb. The factory Ford driver, whose advantage out front is 8.3s, reported a piece of protective safety foam had worked loose and ended up obstructing his foot pedals during the stage.

    The Norwegian also said he almost went off the road on two occasions in the slippery conditions.

    Mikko Hirvonen was 5.2s slower than team-mate Loeb with the third quickest time. “It was a difficult stage with so much rhythm changes,” said the Finn.

    Dani Sordo, who is standing in for the injured Jari-Matti Latvala at Ford, was fourth quickest. He said: “The handling of the car was very good but I don’t take many risks on purpose.”

    more: wrc.com/news/argentina ss2



    --------------------

    SS3: Solberg fastest



    Stage data: SS3, Speedagro Ascochinga/Agua de Oro (51.88 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg leads Philips Rally Argentina by 20.1s after winning the third stage of the event, round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Solberg, in Ford World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC, set a time of 37m50.7s through the monster 51.88-kilometre test to grow his overall advantage to new second-placed driver Mikko Hirvonen, who profited when his team-mate Sebastien Loeb suffered two spins in his Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC.

    “I have a lot of oversteer and on the exit of the corner I can’t keep the car on the line,” said Loeb, who slips to fourth overall after taking 26.5s more than Solberg to complete the run.

    Solberg, meanwhile, reported having problems of his own. “I hit a bank and bent the rear link. I thought I had a puncture and couldn’t really push because it happened after four kilometres. It was quite a tricky stage to drive like that. I didn’t take any risks.”

    Dani Sordo, who is partnering Solberg at Ford on a one-off basis in place of the injured Jari-Matti Latvala, was third fastest, 10.1s down on the Norwegian.

    Thierry Neuville reported suffering a brief spin his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC. Nevertheless it was an impressive effort by the young Belgian who was fourth quickest, 13.1s off the leading pace.

    Russian Evgeny Novikov failed to get to the 10-kilometre mark after taking a wheel off his M-Sport Fiesta. Team-mate Ott Tanak is also stopped in the stage.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss3



    --------------------

    Friday midday wrap

    It has been a dramatic start to round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia with Petter Solberg leading for Ford and Sebastien Loeb down in fourth overall after spinning his factory Citroen on three separate occasions.

    With overnight rain leaving the stages damp and muddy in places, conditions have been far from ideal for the competing crews on Philips Rally Argentina.

    Loeb was fastest on Friday’s first test to hit back from the time loss suffered on Thursday night’s superspecial stage, despite a spin. However, two further spins on the 51.88-kilometre Speedagro Ascochinga/Agua de Oro stage means he now trails Solberg by 34.8s at the midday service in Villa Carlos Paz.

    Solberg, whose advantage over second-placed Mikko Hirvonen - in another Citroen - stands at 20.1s, said: “Twenty seconds is not a lot I tell you. In the last stage I hit a bank and bent the rear link. I thought I had a puncture and didn’t take any risks.”

    Loeb said a bout of oversteer was to blame for his woes as he bids to make it seven wins in a row in South America. “I have a lot of oversteer and on the exit of the corner I can’t keep the car on the line,” said the world championship leader.

    Behind Hirvonen, Dani Sordo has impressed on his first outing for the factory Ford team in place of the injured Jari-Matti Latvala. The Spaniard is a strong third, 24.6s down on team-mate Solberg.

    Thierry Neuville is fifth in his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC with Vodafone Rally de Portugal winner Mads Ostberg completing the top six.

    more: wrc.com/news/friday-midday-wrap



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    SS4: Loeb quickest,Solberg in trouble



    Stage data: SS4, Fernet 1882 La Pampa/La Pampa II (37.51 kilometres)

    There was high drama on stage four of Philips Rally Argentina when leader Petter Solberg stopped 28 kilometres into the run with a reported broken front-right steering arm.

    Solberg, in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, started the stage heading the overall classification by 20.1s but his misfortune hands first position to Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen.

    “There’s still a long way to go but hopefully I can keep my pace and fight for the win, I’m really enjoying myself,” said Hirvonen.

    Sebastien Loeb was fastest through the stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC, 2.4s quicker than team-mate Hirvonen. He climbs from fourth to second overall as a result as he bids for his third victory in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    “I was pushing very hard, it’s the only thing I can do in my situation,” said Loeb, who is 12.3s behind Hirvonen with two stages of day one remaining. “I’ve changed a bit the set-up of the car and I was more confident than in the morning.”

    Mads Ostberg reported a power issue on his Adapta Fiesta but still managed the third fastest time, 10.3s adrift of Loeb’s benchmark.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss4



    ---------------------

    SS5: Loeb takes lead



    Stage data: SS5, Speedagro Ascochinga/Agua de Oro II (51.88 kilometres)

    Sebastien Loeb has moved into the lead of Philips Rally Argentina after he went 13.4s faster than Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on Friday’s penultimate stage.

    Loeb now tops Hirvonen in the overall classification by 1.1s with Dani Sordo third, 13.1s down on Loeb after the Spanish Ford driver went second quickest on stage five.

    “We changed a bit the set-up and I was much more confident in the afternoon,” said the eight-time world champion. “I pushed really hard and there were no mistakes this time. It is very close with Mikko and there is a long way to go.”

    Hirvonen reported struggling on the rutted road surface, while Sordo nudged his left-rear wheel, which was out of line at the stage finish.

    Mads Ostberg said the power issue that plagued him on stage four has been cured. However, an intercom problem cost the Norwegian vital seconds in his Adapta Fiesta.

    Thierry Neuville’s impressive run is at an end. The Belgian was fourth overall but failed to get beyond the 30-kilometre mark with reports that his Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC sustained significant right-rear damage.

    As expected, former leader Petter Solberg failed to start the stage as a result of the steering arm that broke on his Fiesta on the previous run. The Norwegian was 5.8 kilometres from the end of stage four when he hit trouble.

    Crews are now on a 90-kilometre road section back to service in Villa Carlos Paz. There is one stage remaining before the completion of day one, the 19.18-kilometre Cosquin/Villa Allende run.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss5



    ---------------------

    SS6: Hirvonen fastest to cut Loeb’s lead


    Photo: McKlein


    Stage data: SS6, Cosquin/Villa Allende (19.18 kilometres)

    Mikko Hirvonen has cut Sebastien Loeb’s lead on Philips Rally Argentina - round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia - to 0.1s after edging his Citroen team-mate by 1.0s through Friday’s final stage.

    “The start of the stage was not good at all but the rest was okay so we will see what happens,” said Hirvonen. “I hope we will have a bit of a fight because Dani [Sordo] is not so far away.”

    Sordo, in a factory Ford, was third quickest, 21.0s adrift of Hirvonen, after opting for a hard compound Michelin tyre on the damp stage. “We take the decision in the team,” said Sordo. “We did not have any softs. We pushed hard but we did not do very well.”

    Loeb, meanwhile, admitted it hadn’t been an easy stage. “The visibility was coming down and I lost a bit of confidence because it was very slippery in some places, not easy,” he said.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah set the fourth fastest time for the Qatari World Rally Team. Mads Ostberg was fifth quickest with Martin Prokop claiming the sixth fastest time in his Autotek Fiesta.

    Saturday’s action gets underway with the 20.18-kilometre San Agustin-Santa Rosa run, which is due to go live at 08:30hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss6




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    Friday wrap:

    Sebastien Loeb has reversed a deficit of more than half a minute to lead Philips Rally Argentina at the completion of day one as Petter Solberg's bid for victory faltered when the Ford driver suffered a broken steering arm on stage four.

    Loeb, who tops the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia drivers’ standings, suffered a succession of spins in the slippery conditions this morning at the wheel of the Citroen DS3 WRC he shares with co-driver Daniel Elena. However, set-up changes at midday service provided the handling and confidence that he craved and he was soon back on top form.

    He moved into second place when Solberg stopped on stage four and snatched top spot by going faster than team-mate Mikko Hirvonen on the fifth test after Hirvonen struggled to find a good rhythm on the rutted roads. However, with Hirvonen fighting back on the final stage of the day, just 0.1s covers the Citroen drivers starting Saturday’s stages.

    “We changed a bit the set-up and I was much more confident in the afternoon,” said Loeb. “I pushed really hard and there were no mistakes. It is very close with Mikko and there is a long way to go.”

    Solberg was 5.4 kilometres from the end of stage four when he was forced out having begun the afternoon loop leading by more than 20s in his Fiesta RS WRC. The Norwegian will return under Rally 2 rules on Saturday.

    While there was frustration for Solberg, stand-in team-mate Dani Sordo impressed on his debut for the Blue Oval by posting a succession of top five stage times. He is third overnight, 33.1s behind Loeb after losing ground running a hard compound tyre on the damp final stage.

    Mads Ostberg is fourth after six stages despite a power issue on stage four and an intercom glitch on stage five. Thierry Neuville was fourth starting stage five but an off left his Citroen with extensive right-rear damage. The promising Belgian plans to restart on Saturday.

    more: wrc.com/news/friday-wrap

    --------------------

    Friday PWRC wrap:

    Nicolas Fuchs tops the Production Car World Rally Championship section of Philips Rally Argentina following a close battle in South America.

    Fuchs, a multiple Peruvian rally champion, has led throughout the day in his Mitsubishi Lancer and reached the overnight halt in Villa Carlos Paz leading Michal Kosciuszko, in a similar Mitsubishi Lancer, by a mere 5.9s.

    “I tried to drive without mistakes and without risks but there have been a lot of rocks on the road so it has not been easy,” said Fuchs.

    Apart from a brake issue on the road section heading to stage four, little has troubled PWRC title leader Kosciuszko. “I’ve made no mistakes, it’s been a clean run and I’ve been satisfied. It’s not been taxi driving, I have been pushing hard without big risks.”

    Like his PWRC rivals, Benito Guerra has also adopted a risk-free strategy although there was a scare for the Mexican on stage five when a rock, thrown by a member of the public, left his Mitsubishi with a cracked windscreen.

    Home hero Marcos Ligato was 2.8s behind Fuchs starting stage five but a reported broken steering wrack on his Subaru Impreza forced the Argentine driver’s retirement and gave Fuchs rare breathing space prior to Kosciuszko’s final-stage charge.

    Ukrainian Valeriy Gorban is fourth for the Mentos Ascania Racing team with Suban Aksa, from Indonesia, a strong fifth on his first start in the PWRC since 2008. Gianluca Linari completes the top six after a broken shock absorber delayed him on Friday morning.

    Several drivers failed to complete day one’s route with Lorenzo Bertelli, Oleksiy Kikireshko, Ricardo Trivino and wildcard entrant Ezequiel Campos all encountering problems.

    Ramona Karlsson failed to start Friday’s opening test following her retirement on Thursday night’s superspecial stage when an oil leak caused irreparable damage to her Lancer.

    click: wrc.com/pwrc/news/friday-pwrc-wrap


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    Saturday
    SS7: Loeb sets the pace



    Photo: McKlein

    Stage data: SS7, San Agustin-Santa Rosa I (20.18 kilometres)

    Sebastien Loeb has extended his lead of Philips Rally Argentina to 3.9s by winning Saturday’s first stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC, which is running on a combination of soft and hard compound Michelin tyres for the inconsistent road conditions, which are largely dry but damp in places following overnight rain.

    Petter Solberg, who is competing under Rally 2 rules following his exit on Friday, was second fastest in his factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1.5s down on Loeb. “Today I have to push and risk to get up to the high points,” said the Norwegian. “We just have to keep going.”

    Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest in his Citroen, 3.8s slower than Loeb. Ott Tanak, running first one the road, was fourth quickest. The Estonian said he made a cautious start to the stage following his day one exit. He also reported the road being drier and looser than he’d expected, despite overnight rain.

    Thierry Neuville, another driver running under Rally 2 regulations, was fifth quickest. He said: “We have shown our speed but now we need to find a good rhythm to stay on the road and don’t do mistakes. We had soft tyres on the rear and the car was sliding a lot.”

    Dani Sordo maintains third overall but has dropped ground to the leading Citroen drivers with the sixth quickest time. The Ford driver described the stage as being “very tricky”.

    Evgeny Novikov said he did not push due to the slippery conditions in his M-Sport Fiesta. He was eighth quickest.

    Meanwhile, Chilean ex-Formula One racer Eliseo Salazar suffered a spin and a stall at a hairpin in his Prodrive-run MINI.

    Overnight Production Car World Rally Championship leader Nicolas Fuchs is dropping time with a differential problem. He has dropped behind category rival Michal Kosciuszko as a result. Suban Aksa completed the stage with a front-right puncture and damaged suspension following an off.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss7



    --------------------

    SS8: Hirvonen fights back

    Stage data: SS8, Amboy-Santa Monica I (20.33 kilometres)

    Mikko Hirvonen has claimed his second stage win on Philips Rally Argentina, edging out Citroen team-mate and rally leader Sebastien Loeb in the process as the battle for victory on round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia intensifies.

    Hirvonen, from Finland, started day two 0.1s behind Loeb but slipped back when Loeb topped the timesheets on Saturday’s first test. However, the Finn’s performance on stage eight means the gap out front is down to a slender 2.4s heading to the longest stage of the day, the 39.74-kilometre Intiyaco-Golpe de Agua run.

    “I really enjoyed that stage, it was fantastic with all those jumps,” said Hirvonen, who has yet to win in Argentina and has been told by Citroen bosses he is free to challenge team leader Loeb for the victory.

    Loeb was 1.5s slower than Hirvonen in third. He said: “Yes I lost a bit of time. I done a few mistakes because I pushed too hard at the start and I was off the line. It was not easy.”

    Petter Solberg continued his charge up the leaderboard following his retirement on Friday afternoon with the second fastest time, a mere 0.5s slower than the standard set by Hirvonen. The factory Ford driver said he was on a “big push” in his efforts to move back into the point-scoring positions.

    Dani Sordo reported that he was struggling for confidence in his Fiesta, which he said was “moving about a lot” on a mixture of soft and hard compound tyres. “Some places I am over the limit, some places I am too slow,” said the Spaniard, who was fifth fastest. “It’s not very good.”

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss8



    --------------------

    SS9: Hirvonen closes on Loeb


    Photo: McKlein

    Stage data: SS9, Intiyaco-Golpe de Agua I (39.74 kilometres)

    Mikko Hirvonen has taken a further 0.3s out of Sebastien Loeb’s lead on Philips Rally Argentina by winning the final stage of Saturday morning in his Citroen DS3 WRC. It means the Finn trails Frenchman Loeb by 2.1s heading to the midday service in Villa Carlos Paz.

    “It was a little up and down and the end of the stage wasn’t so good because the pace notes were not perfect,” said Hirvonen. “But it was the best stage in Argentina that I ever did, it was absolutely fantastic.”

    Loeb admitted he was lucky to complete the stage following a “big moment” when he briefly went off the road in his Citroen. “I was pushing very hard, I had a good start and had a big moment when I hit a big rock. It’s very, very close with Mikko.”

    Petter Solberg said he wasn’t entirely confident with his pace notes for the last 10 kilometres, which he prepared in foggy and wet conditions earlier in the week. Nevertheless the Ford driver was third fastest.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah reached the stage finish with significant right-rear suspension and wheel damage. The Qatar World Rally Team driver reported striking a rock in the last two kilometres of the stage and fears he would be forced to retire from day two.

    Mads Ostberg said the right-rear wheel of his Adapta Fiesta came off a bridge during a moment in the stage. He survived to beat Martin Prokop to the seventh best time.

    Thierry Neuville reported making a mistake in his Citroen, which he said was running too low to the ground. Martin Prokop suffered a few big moments in a high-speed section in his DMACK-shod Fiesta, while Armindo Araujo finished the stage with a badly worn left-rear tyre that was affecting the balance of his WRC Team MINI Portugal entry.

    Daniel Oliveira’s Brazil World Rally Team Fiesta has developed a powersteering glitch. The 26-year-old completed stage nine with the steering column wresting on his legs and has lost considerable time as a result.

    Former grand prix driver Eliseo Salazar likened the stage to a Formula One race after his MINI John Cooper Works WRC touched 200 kilometres per hour on a straight section.

    click: wrc.com/news/argentina ss9




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  12. #11

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    Saturday midday wrap:

    The battle for victory on Philips Rally Argentina, round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia, remains tightly poised with Citroen aces Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen separated by a scant 2.1s after nine stages.

    Loeb extended his overnight lead of 0.1s by winning Saturday’s first stage, which was mainly dry despite overnight rain, but a brace for Hirvonen has fired the Finn back into contention for top honours on the demanding South American event.

    The Citroen team-mates have been allowed to fight for glory rather than hold station due to the threat posed by the chasing Dani Sordo in the leading factory Ford Fiesta. Although the Spaniard has slipped back as a result of tyre selection issues, he remains in third overall and ready to pounce should either Citroen driver slip up in the afternoon.

    Indeed, Loeb reported a near miss on stage nine when his DS3 WRC briefly left the road where the car’s sump guard struck a rock with some force. The Frenchman said he lost confidence as a result.

    Vodafone Rally de Portugal winner Mads Ostberg is fourth overall in his Adapta Fiesta with Nasser Al-Attiyah completing stage nine in fifth position. However, with the Qatari’s Citroen sporting considerable right-rear suspension damage following contact with a rock nearing the stage finish, the Production Car world champion could be forced to retire from day two.

    Martin Prokop stands to gain the most if Al-Attiyah is unable to continue because it would elevate the Czech into fifth position.

    Andreas Mikkelsen heads Sebastien Ogier in the battle of the Volkswagen Motorsport drivers. Mikkelsen, competing in Argentina for the first time, was 0.1s faster than his team-mate through the 39.74-kilometre ninth stage.

    Armindo Araujo is ninth for the WRC Team MINI Portugal operation with Thierry Neuville 10th on his return under Rally 2 regulations. The Belgian reported a spin and a stall on stage nine.

    Petter Solberg has set top-three stages times throughout the morning in his Fiesta, which has been restored to full working order following his retirement from the lead on Friday afternoon.

    more: wrc.com/sat-midday-wrap


    --------------------

    Mikko Hirvonen has been told to hold position behind Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb on Philips Rally Argentina.

    Loeb starts Saturday afternoon’s loop of stages leading Hirvonen by 2.1s following a thrilling battle between the pair during this morning’s three runs.

    However, with third-placed Dani Sordo slipping back in his Ford Fiesta and seemingly now no longer a threat to Loeb and Hirvonen, Citroen team chief Yves Matton wants to ensure a one-two finish for the French make.

    That would mean a seventh victory in South America for Loeb and a 70th WRC career triumph for the eight-time world champion providing he encounters no problems between now and the finish in Villa Carlos Paz on Sunday afternoon.

    Matton said: “I spoke to both the crews and they agreed that it was the best solution. Sebastien almost went off on [stage nine] and we can’t afford to throw away a possible one-two, which would be great result for both world championships. It’s a bit hard on Mikko after what happened in Portugal, but I hope he’ll be able to stand on the top step of the podium again with us very soon.”

    click: wrc.com/news/16599

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  13. #12

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    SS10: Stage win for Solberg



    Stage data: SS10, San Agustin-Santa Rosa II (20.18 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg has gone fastest on stage 10 of Philips Rally Argentina in his factory Ford Fiesta as he attempts to recover lost ground following his retirement on Friday afternoon. The Norwegian was 6.2s quicker than team-mate Dani Sordo with event leader Sebastien Loeb third fastest in his Citroen.

    “Hopefully now we keep on with our objectives,” said Solberg. “I now have a target and I hope I can get up to fifth. Hopefully there will be a couple of more retirements. But I’ve got to up the pace a bit I know.”

    Sordo’s effort means he has strengthened his grip on third place. However, he has all but ruled out catching the leading Citroen drivers Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen, who is second. “We try to continue but their level is very high,” he said. “But I am happy.

    Hirvonen was instructed to hold position behind Loeb at midday service. His reduced pace through stage 10 means he now trails Loeb by 5.0s in the overall standings.

    “It’s important for the team to get maximum points because in Portugal it was not good,” said Hirvonen. “I would like to fight but it’s important to bring the car home and to try to do my job the best I can.”

    Thierry Neuville said he was more confident following set-up changes to his Citroen at midday service. He was fourth fastest.

    Sebastien Ogier completed the stage with damage to the left-rear suspension of his Volkswagen Motorsport-run Skoda Fabia. The Frenchman is unsure if he will be able to continue.

    Brazil’s Paulo Nobre is unlikely to start the stage after an overheating problem developed on his WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works on the road section heading to the run. Nasser Al-Attiyah has retired from the day following his brush with a rock on the previous test.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss10




    --------------------

    SS11: Solberg continues to fly



    Stage data: SS11, Amboy-Santa Monica II (20.33 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg has claimed his second stage win in succession on Philips Rally Argentina with the fastest time through the repeat of the Amboy-Santa Monica test in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

    Solberg is battling back from the time lost when he retired on stage four of the event on Friday afternoon. He has climbed to 10th overall and said: “I’ve really found the right feeling with this car, I can do anything with this car.”

    Out front, Sebastien Loeb continues to edge clear in his pursuit of a 70th victory in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia. Loeb was second quickest, 2.9s down on Solberg, and leads Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen by 7.7s in the overall classification with two stages of day two left to run.

    “It’s a beautiful stage and there was no reason to push any harder,” explained Loeb.

    Hirvonen said: “I wasn’t expecting the stage to be so rough second time through so you need to be careful with the rocks but it was still a good stage.”

    Dani Sordo reached the stage finish with the front-left tyre off its rim. The stand-in Ford driver was fourth quickest behind Hirvonen.

    Mads Ostberg said he was concentrating on improving his pace notes for next season on his way to the fifth fastest time for the Adapta World Rally Team. M-Sport Fiesta driver Ott Tanak was sixth quickest with Thierry Neuville next up in his Citroen.

    Martin Prokop reported no problems in his Autotek Fiesta on his way to the 10th fastest time behind Evgeny Novikov and Volkswagen Motorsport’s Sebastien Ogier.

    Behind Andreas Mikkelsen, who was 11th fastest, Armindo Araujo was 12th quickest for WRC Team MINI Portugal with Daniel Oliveira 13th for the Brazil World Rally Team.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss11



    --------------------

    SS12: Hat trick for Solberg



    Stage data: SS12, Intiyaco-Golpe de Agua II (39.74 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg has made it a hat trick of stage wins on day two of Philips Rally Argentina by completing Saturday’s penultimate run 11.3s faster than his closest rival Thierry Neuville.

    Solberg is on a charge in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC after dropping out of the lead on Friday afternoon with damaged steering.

    He said: “I think I’ve done a good job today. I could do a better job than this but I am not in a position to go absolutely crazy. I just need to get as many points as possible to keep in touch with the championship.”

    Second-placed Neuville was also pleased with his performance. The Citroen Junior driver said: “Honestly on this stage we got back a bit of the rhythm from yesterday although in the dangerous corners I slowed down a bit.”

    Sebastien Loeb, whose overall lead to Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is 7.8s, was 0.1s faster than the Finn. He said: “I was faster at the start, he was quicker in the middle then I come back at the end. This was perfection.”

    Ott Tanak, who is running first on the road, recorded the sixth quickest time in his M-Sport Fiesta. He said: “It was a bit slippery in the forest with damp and mud.”

    Fellow M-Sport Fiesta driver Evgeny Novikov was eighth fastest. He said: “I was just driving and improving my pace notes for the future. There was nothing crazy.”

    Sebastien Ogier took advantage of a small mistake by Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen to move into sixth overall. “It was in a fast corner where I had a spin and lost a lot of speed on the straight,” said Mikkelsen.

    Daniel Oliveira struggled to make it through the stage due to a suspected broken driveshaft on his Brazil World Rally Team Fiesta, which left him stranded shortly after the stage finish.

    Armindo Araujo had to overtake Oliveira during the stage but said he didn’t experience any significant delay in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

    Crews are now heading back to Villa Carlos Paz for a 30-minute service halt. The final stage of the day, Super Especial Amarok, goes live at 19:50hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss12



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  14. #13

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    SS13: Superspecial glory for Neuville



    Stage data: SS13, Super Especial Amarok II (6.04 kilometres)

    Thierry Neuville completed his return to action on Saturday morning under Rally 2 regulations in style by setting the fastest time through the day-closing superspecial stage on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Paz tonight.

    Driving a Citroen Junior World Rally Team DS3 WRC, Neuville edged out Petter Solberg by 4.6s when he went up against the Ford driver.

    Dani Sordo was second quickest, 4.3s down on Neuville with Mikko Hirvonen next up in his factory Citroen. Philips Rally Argentina leader Sebastien Loeb was fifth quickest.

    Ott Tanak won the battle of the M-Sport Ford team-mates by beating Evgeny Novikov by 0.9s in their head-to-head, while Armindo Aruajo saw off fellow MINI driver Eliseo Salazar in their showdown.

    Daniel Oliveira didn’t start the stage after it emerged that the driveshaft that broke on stage 12 caused an oil leak in his Brazil World Rally Team Fiesta.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss13



    --------------------

    Saturday wrap:


    Sebastien Loeb will start the final day of Philips Rally Argentina firmly on course for his seventh victory on the event and his 70th in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia after Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was told to hold position.

    It means Loeb can focus on Sunday’s 132.19 competitive kilometres - and in particular the menacing 65.74-kilometre Matadero/Ambul run - without having to think about fending off Hirvonen.

    Hirvonen was firmly in contention for top spot on the back of two stage wins this morning until Citroen team chief Yves Matton gave the order for the Finn to remain behind his French colleague in order to secure a one-two finish.

    “It has been a very strong day,” said Loeb, the eight-time world champion. “Mikko did some very good times in the morning but in the afternoon I took it a bit more easy but it was still very fast and the car was working well. It’s looking good at the moment.”

    Hirvonen admitted he was disappointed that he couldn’t continue to fight for the victory but accepted his team’s decision. “For sure you want to fight all the way through but you have to think about the bigger picture and the manufacturers’ points,” he said. “We’ve had a great day no doubt about it and we’re in a good position for the team. Anything can happen but we can take it quite steady and not push so hard.”

    Ford stand-in Dani Sordo started day two in touching distance of the leading Citroen duo but gradually fell back, unsettled by a puncture and running a mixture of hard and soft compound tyres in the morning. “Yesterday was good, today not,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of confidence today. It’s really bad to be honest. I’m getting points, they’re important but I want to go fast too.”

    Mads Ostberg is on course for another solid haul of points in his Adapta Fiesta following a trouble-free day with Martin Prokop capitalising on Nasser Al-Attiyah’s retirement with broken suspension to take fifth overall. “It’s been a very good day with no mistakes,” said Prokop. “The car was working well and the set-up was perfect.”

    Sebastien Ogier tops the battle for Volkswagen Motorsport supremacy after he moved ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen on stage 12.

    more: wrc.com/news/saturday-wrap

    --------------------

    Saturday PWRC wrap:



    It has been a day of high drama in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship section of Philips Rally Argentina.

    Overnight leader Nicolas Fuchs continues to top the division in his Mitsubishi Lancer but there was a time this morning when he thought his dream of claiming his maiden category win would end when a differential fault took hold on Saturday’s first stage.

    However, Fuchs was able to make repairs and with Michal Kosciuszko stopping for good after stage nine with an oil pressure glitch, the Peruvian was back in front and seemingly heading for victory, only for a time penalty to cause more anguish when he was late leaving midday service.

    “We had to work a lot on the car in the service,” Fuchs explained. “We changed the front differential, the shocks, the brakes, it was amazing and we had to finish the work on the road section. All day we have had problems and there is much work to do but I am happy.”

    Guerra took advantage of team-mate Kosciuszko’s exit to climb into second overall. The Mexican is intent on preserving his Lancer over the demanding terrain and arduous competitive distance so has adopted a risk-free strategy.

    Ukrainian Valeriy Gorban is third overall in his Mentos Ascania Racing Lancer with Marcos Ligato battling up to fourth, despite restarting on Saturday under Rally 2 rules. The Argentine encountered suspension problems in the morning but enjoyed a trouble-free afternoon in his Subaru Impreza.

    more: wrc.com/pwrc/saturday-pwrc-wrap



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  15. #14

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    Sunday

    SS14: Solberg wins the WRC's longest stage




    Stage data: SS14, Matadero/Ambul (65.74 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg’s bid to score as many points as possible on Philips Rally Argentina remains on course after he cut the gap to Thierry Neuville to less than two minutes by winning the monster 65.74-kilometre Matadero/Ambul run, the longest in the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Factory Ford pilot Solberg, world rally champion in 2003, was 23.7s faster than his Belgian rival to reduce the deficit to the Citroen youngster to 1m57.1s with five stages remaining.

    “My focus is to score as many points as I can so I didn’t take any risks,” Solberg said at the completion of day two. “I would like to have more kilometres to chase the people ahead, but I only have one day remaining so I will do my best.”

    Neuville’s effort moves him ahead of Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen into sixth position in the overall classification. Ogier, meanwhile, is now just 1.8s ahead of Mikkelsen, in an identical Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia, as the thrilling battle between the Volkswagen Motorsport team-mates continues unabated. Mikkelsen completed the stage 3.2s quicker than Ogier.

    Evgeny Novikov was third fastest with Martin Prokop fourth in his similar Fiesta. Dani Sordo set the fifth quickest time with Mads Ostberg sixth. Mikko Hirvonen set the seventh best time and trims Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb’s overall lead to six seconds. Loeb was ninth fastest.

    Ott Tanak, who was running at the head of the field in his M-Sport Fiesta, was almost one minute adrift of Solberg’s stage best.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss14



    -------------------

    SS15: Hirvonen closes up to Loeb


    Photo: McKlein

    Stage data: SS15, Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare I (17.74 kilometres)

    Mikko Hirvonen has slashed Sebastien Loeb’s lead on Philips Rally Argentina to 0.2s. The Finn was instructed not to challenge his Citroen team leader for victory on round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia but is now back in touching distance of top spot after Loeb dropped time through the famous Mina Clavero test.

    Meanwhile, Petter Solberg continues to edge closer to sixth-placed Thierry Neuville in his quest for additional points. Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg was fastest through the stage, 16.8s quicker than Neuville and is now 1m43.3s adrift. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the Norwegian will be able to catch the Belgian in the overall classification.

    Volkswagen Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen struggled to complete the stage due to a broken front suspension damper on his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia. As a result he has slipped from seventh to 10th position.

    Evgeny Novikov set the second fastest time for the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team. Neuville was third quickest with Hirvonen next up. Martin Prokop was fifth fastest with Dani Sordo - who suffered a spin on the previous test - sixth fastest.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss15



    -------------------

    SS16: Solberg edges closer to Neuville



    Stage data: SS16, El Condor/Copina (16.32 kilometres)

    Stage winner Petter Solberg has made more progress in his efforts to catch Thierry Neuville for sixth position on Philips Rally Argentina. The factory Ford driver is now 1m17.5s behind the Citroen Junior runner after going 22.8s faster through the run.

    Evgeny Novikov was second fastest, 18.5s down on Solberg with overall leader Sebastien Loeb third quickest.

    Loeb is continuing to control his advantage over Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen and leads by 1.3s heading to service in Villa Carlos Paz.

    Mads Ostberg said his Adapta Fiesta was suffering from significant oversteer while Ott Tanak, running first on the road, reported encountering patches of fog on the stage, which is famed for its lunar landscape.

    Andreas Mikkelsen is unlikely to tackle the stage amid fears the front suspension failure on the previous test will prevent him from continuing. Mikkelsen had been embroiled in a close battle with Volkswagen Motorsport team-mate Sebastien Ogier until he hit trouble.

    A 30-minute service halt now awaits the crews before stage 17, the repeat of Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare, goes live at 14:07hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss16




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  16. #15

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    SS17: Double blow for MINI



    Stage data: SS17, Mina Clavero/Giulio Cesare II (17.74 kilometres)

    There was a double blow for WRC Team MINI Portugal when both of its John Cooper Works WRCs failed to complete stage 17 of Philips Rally Argentina.

    Paulo Nobre stopped at the nine-kilometre mark with reports that he’d taken a wheel off his car. Team-mate Armindo Araujo went two kilometres further before broken steering led to his exit.

    Factory Ford driver Petter Solberg was fastest for the fourth stage in succession despite fearing his decision to run on used soft compound tyres has cost him a shot at making up more ground in the overall classification.

    “I thought it would be more wet,” said the Norwegian. “My tyres are very worn now, it’s going to be hard to push. It doesn’t look like we have the tyres for the Power Stage but I’ll do my best.”

    With Solberg struggling, Thierry Neuville has all but cemented his sixth position. The Citroen driver said: “We’re watching the times of Petter but if we make no mistake then it will be impossible for him to catch us.”

    Ott Tanak, who is running at the head of the field, reported the stage surface being rougher than on the first run through. “It’s difficult to focus your eyes because it is quite bumpy,” said the Estonian.

    Rally leader Sebastien Loeb said the stage was “really horrible” due to the rough conditions. Despite his cautious approach he has edged 5.6s clear of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss17




    ---------------------

    SS18: Solberg demotes Ogier

    Stage data: SS18, El Condor/Casilla Negra (11.16 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg’s fears that he had climbed as high as possible on Philips Rally Argentina have proved unfounded after he moved ahead of Sebastien Ogier in the overall classification on round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    Solberg, who was fastest through the stage in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, is up to seventh position with Ogier unable to fend off the rapid Norwegian in his Super 2000-specification Skoda Fabia.

    Out front Sebastien Loeb is one stage away from winning in South America for a seventh time after he safely completed the penultimate test in his Citroen DS3 WRC. Loeb was second fastest to grow his advantage over team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is 15.8s.

    Mads Ostberg set the third fastest time in his Adapta Fiesta. Dani Sordo was next up for the factory Ford team with Thierry Neuville fifth quickest and Evgeny Novikov setting the sixth best time.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss18



    ---------------------

    SS19: Solberg takes Power Stage win



    Stage data: SS19, Power Stage Amarok Copina (4.15 kilometres)

    Petter Solberg has won the Power Stage on Philips Rally Argentina to secure three world championship bonus points.

    Driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Solberg completed the 4.15-kilometre test, which ran on the final section of the famous El Condor stage, 1.1s faster than Mikko Hirvonen, who scored two bonus points in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

    Nasser Al-Attiyah clinched the final bonus point with the third quickest time in his Qatar World Rally Team Citroen, one place ahead of Sebastien Loeb, who has won round five of the FIA World Rally Championship powered by Nokia.

    But there was despair for Ford stand-in Dani Sordo who was on course for a podium finish but is understood to have dropped out with a suspected broken alternator belt.

    Crews are now heading to the finish in Villa Carlos Paz with the first car due to cross the finishing ramp at 16:34hrs local time.

    click: wrc.com/news/ss19




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