Evans Leads WRC in Argentina

Elfyn Evans leads Rally Argentina after the first day. Initially Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo were able to keep Evans in sight, but both hit trouble, Sordo changing a broken steering arm on his Hyundai and Meeke flying off the road when caught out by a bump on the following stage, doing substantial damage to his Citroen. Meeks got going again and reached the stage finish having lost just over six minutes, but faces a challenge to get his damaged car through the superspecial and back to service.

All that chaos put Jari-Matti Latvala up to second after being part of a very tight five-car battle for most of the morning, drewing nearly nine seconds clear of it by going second-quickest to Evans on Santa Rosa. The Finn trails the Welshman by 23.6s overall. Current WRC leader Sebastien Ogier dropped as low as seventh, having done slight aero damage to his M-Sport Ford when an incorrect pace note led to him exploring a ditch on the opening stage but he regained a little ground on SS3 then felt running first on the road was particularly costly on SS4, leaving him fifth.

The champion is at the tail of a very close all-Ford fight for third, with 3.5s covering WRC returnee Mads Ostberg and works M-Sport duo Ott Tanak and Ogier. Thierry Neuville was in the thick of this battle at first before a broken damper caused him to drop away. His Hyundai is 12.3s off Ogier in sixth. Last year's Argentina winner Hayden Paddon rolled on the day's very first stage, but the level of attrition and the fact he sustained minimal damage and got going within two and a half minutes means he is already back up to ninth behind Lorenzo Bertelli and WRC2 leader Pontus Tidemand.

Juho Hanninen has been drastically slowed by a loss of power on his Toyota, which started after a rough ride over one of many vicious compressions on the early stages. He runs a distant 10th. Craig Breen is classified 14th in his Citroen C3, but has retired from Friday's competition with a broken gearbox although the Irishman was able to complete the stage. Citroen later confirmed that Breen's car had been retired for the day as a result of the issue.

Top Ten Positions after SS4:
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team 38m40.6s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 23.6s
3 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team 32.2s
4 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team 33.4s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team 35.7s
6 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport 48.0s
7 Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin M-Sport World Rally Team 2m04.4s
8 Pontus Tidemand, J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport 3m03.1s
9 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport 3m03.8s
10 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC3m10.3s

28th April, 2017