The opening day of Rally Argentina was a tough one for the Citroen Total World Rally Team, but the team still feel that third-placed Sebastien Ogier can fight for the victory.
Sebastien Loeb started the day with the rally lead after winning the Thursday evening superspecial, but running first on the road hampered the championship leader. He was still on the pace in fourth place at the end of the morning loop but he then received a one minute time penalty for checking in early to midday service.
“It wasn't very clear,” said Loeb, explaining the error. “There were a lot of people at the time control and the check in sign wasn't visible. Daniel handed in his time card at the exact time but we were still given a one-minute penalty. Now the gap is pretty big in the overall classification. I can't say that it's been a great day but we'll continue to push. Our fastest time in the final stage shows that we can still get among the front-runners.”
Loeb ended the day one and a half minutes down on rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala. “We had a good run without making any big mistakes. Being first out on the road was handicapping, above all in the second loop when sweeping was at its most important.”
Ogier suffered a puncture on the challenging asphalt section on SS4 and then a spin on SS5, leaving him 28.8 seconds off the lead at the end of the day, in third place overall.
“We were always on the pace even if we were not at our best on the asphalt,” said Ogier. “We had a puncture this morning and I think I was maybe a bit over-cautious this afternoon. We're in a very good position for tomorrow. The second day is taking place on roads that suit me a lot better even if it'll be my first time racing on them. I hope that sweeping will help us a little. I have to find a good feeling right from the start so that I can push. I know we can win.”
Team principal Olivier Quesnel added: “I know that Sebastien Ogier likes the stages on the second day. He's going to push and he's got every chance even if we know it'll be complicated as he's up against drivers who have much more experience in Argentina. We can expect a good scrap. I know Sebastien Loeb and I'm sure he'll be able to get back into contention between now and Sunday afternoon. Everybody could be surprised. I think he can still fight for victory.”