Loeb maintains Rally Argentina lead, but Citroen team-mate Hirvonen keeps in touch
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, April 28th 2012, 14:28 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb continues to lead Rally Argentina after the first day two loop, but his Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is not letting him get away.
When Loeb charged from fourth to first in short order on Friday afternoon, it looked like he was set to pull clear and stretch his unbeaten Argentina run. Hirvonen had other ideas, and although Loeb was 3.8 seconds quicker on Saturday's first stage, fastest times on the next two meant the gap came back down to 2.1s.
Loeb admitted that he lost confidence after a wild moment on the 39-kilometre Intiyaco-Golpe de Agua stage, while Hirvonen was buzzing at the finish, having thoroughly enjoyed the stages.
Dani Sordo had to concede defeat to the Citroens, realising he could not keep pace with them and falling back in an increasingly distant third in his works Ford. Adapta Ford driver Mads Ostberg is still fourth.
Nasser Al-Attiyah took a wheel off his Qatar Citroen on SS9, so looks set to lose his fifth place despite limping to the stage finish. That will elevate Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) and Volkswagen's Skoda duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier.
Of the drivers rejoining under Rally 2, Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior) and Petter Solberg (Ford) are looking good for points in 10th and 11th.
Leading positions after SS9: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 3h06m42.3s 2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 2.1s 3. Dani Sordo Ford + 1m30.7s 4. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 2m26.6s 5. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 7m58.1s 6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 8m07.5s 7. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Skoda + 8m36.8s 8. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 8m48.7s 9. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 11m23.5s 10. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 11m36.9s