After spending the last years in the shadow of the French Sébastien Ogierthe Belgian Thierry Neuville It seems that he finally has the role of the man to beat in the WRC. He proved it in the 39th Rally Argentina, the fifth date of the tournament that was held in Córdoba with the organization of the Automobile Club Argentino.
The official team driver Hyundai He reached this fifth appointment on the calendar at the head of the tournament, a position he achieved after winning the previous date in Corsica. And in the mountains of the Mediterranean province he reinforced his leadership with a great victory, which began to take shape already on Friday's stage when he took advantage of the setbacks of Ott Tänak y Chris Meeke, both from Toyota (the Estonian spun on the last stage and the Irishman did not have good traction).
Neuville finished the first day of the race, which included the cancellation of the first run by Amboy-Yacanto due to his poor condition, eleven seconds ahead of Ogier, who also advanced positions due to the misfortune of the representatives of the Japanese team.
On Saturday Neuville was more regular than effective (he only won one section) and distanced himself from the rest of his rivals, who continued to have problems. Meeke suffered an oil leak and a puncture, Tänak with an electrical failure and Ogier with power steering.
“We had a great weekend. I felt very comfortable. This result is due to great teamwork, both for what was done here and at our headquarters in Germany. We look forward to the upcoming events, which may be tougher. But beyond that we are enjoying what we are doing this year ”, the victor stood out.
The delays of those appearing as favorites were also taken advantage of by the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, who finished the day as the Belgian's squire. “It was a difficult race and that's why it's nice to be on the podium. I take this second place as a victory ”, summarized.
Without a fight for victory against the supremacy of Hyundai's racers, the most interesting thing was the battle for third place. A dispute that had a seasoning with the complaint that Ogier made that several pilots had cut off the road in PE 11 (Nevada-Characato blade). Indeed, the authorities gave him the reason and sanctioned Meeke, Tänak and the Norwegian with 10 seconds Mads ostberg, from the WRC2 category.
Thanks to these penalties Ogier passed Meeke and became third. The fight between the two moved to the hard roads of Traslasierra and the battle for the last step of the podium was won by Seb thanks to the fact that he flew in El Cóndor he was the fastest in the Power Stage. "Depending on the championship, the podium and the victory on the Power Stage is something positive", said the multiple champion.
This edition did not have compatriots in the main categories, although there were five who "turned around" and qualified in the last positions. They were Guillermo Bottazini (17º), Martin Ibarra (18º), Jose Maria Iribarren (19º), Thomas harpe (20º) and Sergio Zarza (21º).
With his second success in Argentina, Neuville not only strengthened his position at the head of the competition (now he leads Ogier ten points), but also showed his good moment. The one who hopes to crown with his first title.
1. Thierry Neuville (BEL / Hyundai), 3h20m54s6
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR / Hyundai) at 48s4
3. Sébastien Ogier (FRA / Citroën) at 1m04s8
4. Kris Meeke (IRL / Toyota) at 1m06s2
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN / Toyota) at 1m21s1
6. Dani Sordo (ESP / Hyundai) at 1m26s7
7. Teemo Suninen (FIN / Ford) at 4m57s3
8. Ott Tänak (EST / Toyota) at 14m24s8
9. Mads Ostberg (NOR / Citroën / WRC2 PRO) at 14m24s8
10. Pedro Heller (CHL / Ford / WRC2) at 20m14s5
CHAMPIONSHIP: 1) Thierry Neuville, 110 points; 2) Sébastien Ogier, 100; 3) Ott Tänak, 82; 4) Kriss Meeke, 54; 5) Elfyn Evans, 43. NEXT DATE: 10 to 12/5, Rally Chile.