Rally Argentina: Tanak takes 1.6s lead on opening stage

World Rally Championship driver Ott Tanak took an early lead on Rally Argentina, winning the opening Villa Carlos Paz superspecial by 1.6 seconds from Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier.

Toyota’s main title contender Tanak followed up his fastest time in the shakedown with the best time on the short 1.18-mile blast around the host city’s streets, which took place in damp conditions.

His Yaris WRC team-mate Kris Meeke also mirrored his shakedown performance by going third quickest, 0.1s off Ogier’s second-fastest time.

Hyundai duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville completed the top five, with points leader Neuville dropping 2.1s to rival Tanak.

Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a bizarre moment only a few seconds into the stage, when a dog ran towards the path of his car.

Although the Finn said he was “a bit disturbed” when he saw the stray animal, his time loss was minimal and so he tied with Sordo for sixth.

Behind eighth-placed Esapekka Lappi was M-Sport pairing Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen, completing the top 10.

Suninen had set the equal third-fastest first split but spun late on, having taken an aggressive cut over the middle of a grassy roundabout.

Three-time European Rally champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz had been fifth fastest at the midway point, despite driving a less powerful R5-specification Volkswagen Polo GTI.

But he spun at the same roundabout as Suninen to force the Pole into a three-point turn.

Instead it was Toyota protege Takamoto Katusta that was fastest of the WRC2 support category contingent, 0.3s off Suninen’s time and 0.8s ahead of WRC2 Pro leader Gus Greensmith.

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m58.6s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen Total WRT Citroen 1.6s
3 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1.7s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2.0s
5 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2.1s
6 Dani Sordo, C.del Barrio Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2.3s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2.3s
8 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 2.9s
9 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3.1s
10 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3.5s

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