Tanak with his Yaris WRC has won five of seven speed tests and now leads 46.5 seconds to his closest pursuer Hyundai’s lead man Thierry Neuville. Both rally leaders and crews are ready to face today’s shortened route. Tanak took three wins on Friday’s first leg and reeled off three more victories on Saturday eventhough the conditions were far from perfect. Only a final stage scare prevented him from repeating the hat-trick. A damaged front right shock absorber and power steering problems on his Toyota Yaris forced him to ease off, but he still managed to extend the lead. “That was really hard. The oil leaked out of the damper and I lost the use of the power steering before it came back. I didn’t feel like I was pushing so much today. I had a great feeling with the car, which was going so well, so why not enjoy it?” said Tänak.
Neuville in the Hyundai i20 pushed Kris Meeke from second and took no risks on the rocky, rutted gravel tracks to consolidate the runner-up spot. “I could have done more but it wasn’t necessary,” said the Belgian, who headed team-mate Dani Sordo by 21.7sec. Both i20 WRC drivers kept Tanak honest with a stage win apiece. Sordo gained a podium place in the final stage when Meeke conceded more than two minutes and his Citroën C3 plunged to eighth.
Ogier was fourth in a Fiesta WRC, finishing almost a minute off Tanak’s time. The Frenchman was hugely cautious due to the adverse weather. He intends to at least pick up a podium spot with a final push during Sunday’s short leg.
Third Hyundai i20 WRC driver Andreas Mikkelsen was fifth, following a setup change on his car in the second leg. Having made his way up to sixth, Citroen’s Craig Breen became a victim to the tricky conditions as he crashed his C3 WRC and damaged the car’s roll cage. He had to retire on the spot.
Sunday’s finale is one of the season’s classic days. Two passes through the rock-strewn roads of El Condor sandwich the lunar landscape of Giulio Cesare, both high in the Traslasierra mountains. They add up to just 55.27km, but are some of the year’s toughest roads.
2018 WRC Rally Argentina classifications (after Leg 2)
1. O Tänak / M Järveoja EST Toyota Yaris 2hr 58min 33.9sec
2. T Neuville / N Gilsoul BEL Hyundai i20 + 46.5sec
3. D Sordo / C del Barrio ESP Hyundai i20 + 1min 08.2sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Ford Fiesta + 1min 59.0sec
5. A Mikkelsen / A Jaeger NOR Hyundai i20 + 2min 13.8sec
6. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Toyota Yaris + 2min 42.9sec