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.
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.
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.