LEG ONE, SECTION ONE REPORT: Personal Rally Argentina, 19-21 March, 2010
Intercontinental Rally Challenge, round three of 12
MEEKE TOPS SUPERSPECIAL TO LEAD IN ARGENTINA
Kris Meeke will take a slender lead of 1.4 seconds into the second section of leg one of the 30th Personal Rally Argentina after topping the times on the opening superspecial stage through the streets of Carlos Paz on Friday (19 March).
In front of a capacity crowd of 12,000 fans, Meeke completed the all-asphalt 3.30-kilometre course, held in wet conditions, in a time of 2m32.8s at the wheel of his Peugeot UK 207 Super 2000.
Bruno Magalhaes, in his Peugeot Portugal 207, was second fastest having recovered from illness in the lead up to the rally. Guy Wilks completed the top three as the highest-placed Skoda Fabia driver.
Intercontinental Rally Challenge leader Juho Hanninen, who was paired against Meeke on the street course, was fourth fastest in the first of two factory Fabias. His time was identical to that of team-mate Jan Kopecky, who was classified fifth.
Juan Manuel Marchetto was the leading Argentine driver in sixth overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, with countryman Federico Villagra seventh. However, Villagra will face an anxious wait to learn if his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 can be restored to full working order after he reported a problem with his car’s gearbox at the end of the stage.
Along with Uruguayan veteran Gustavo Trelles, Miguel Baldoni was the first driver to tackle the stage and ended up eighth quickest, marginally faster than Brazilian Daniel Oliveira, who finished the stage with slight damage to the right-rear corner of his Stohl Racing Peugeot 207 after nudging a straw bale.
Saturday’s action features seven stages with the opening 16.57-kilometre Las Bajadas-Villa Del Dique stage getting underway at 08:13hrs local time. However, the results of the superspecial won’t alter the road positions for the second section of leg one, which were determined earlier today. Nasser Al-Attiyah, who is tenth overnight, will be the first to tackle the stages in his Fabia. Hanninen will go second with Wilks third, Villagra fourth and overnight leader Meeke fifth. The overnight forecast is for heavy rain.
Kris Meeke (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S2000, first overall: "It was a good enough run through but it’s one of those stages when you can lose everything, particularly when the rain came in. It was impossible to judge the grip so we might have been a bit wrong to have shaved our tyres so much. The fans were incredible, I really enjoyed it."
Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal), Peugeot 207 S2000, second overall: "It was very difficult and very slippery, especially with gravel tyres on wet Tarmac. I was very cautious because of this. I think the car is better now after Brazil."
Guy Wilks (United Kingdom), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall: "I tried to keep it as neat as possible but what a welcome that was to Rally Argentina with greasy Tarmac, gravel tyres and rain. It got a bit close at times."
TOP TEN IRC POSITIONS AFTER LEG ONE, SECTION ONE
1 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle Peugeot 207 S2000 2m32.8s
2 Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes Peugeot 207 S2000 +1.4s
3 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh Skoda Fabia S2000 +2.2s
4 Juho Hanninen/Mikko Markkula Skoda Fabia S2000 +2.9s
5 Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary Skoda Fabia S2000 +2.9s
6 Juan Manuel Marchetto/Franchello Gustavo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +7.2s
7 Federico Villagra/Jorge Perez Companc Ford Fiesta S2000 +7.8s
8 Miguel Baldoni/Jose Luis Diaz Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +8.4s
9 Daniel Oliveira/Carlos Del Barrio Peugeot 207 S2000 +9.3s
10 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini Skoda Fabia S2000 +9.4s
LEG ONE, SECTION TWO ITINERARY (SATURDAY 20 MARCH)
Service A: Carlos Paz, 06:10hrs; SS2: Las Bajadas-Villa del Dique 1 (16.57kms), 08:13hrs; SS3: Amboy-Santa Monica 1 (20.43kms), 09:00hrs; SS4: Santa Rosa-San Agustin 1 (21.53kms), 09:41hrs; SS5: San Agustin-Villa General Belgrano 1 (16.46kms), 10:24hrs; Service B: Carlos Paz, 12:14hrs; SS6: Las Bajadas-Villa del Dique 2 (16.57kms), 14:57hrs; SS7: Amboy-Santa Monica 2 (20.43kms), 15:44hrs; SS8: Santa Rosa-San Agustin 2 (21.53kms), 16:25hrs; Service C: Carlos Paz, 18:20hrs.