Jari-Matti Latvala stamped his mark across the 2016 Rally Argentina weekend as he topped the leader board after the first full day by 7.9 seconds.
Latvala’s team-mate Sébastien Ogier finished the day in second place with New Zealander Hayden Paddon showing impressive pace, just 3.5 seconds behind.
Ogier set the early pace in the opening two tests as he continued from the opening night that saw him set the equal fastest time while Latvala took a more cautious approach to things before moving in to the lead just before the mid-day service. The Finnish driver would further extend his lead in the afternoon.
“It’s been a very good day with no really big mistakes,” said Latvala. “A couple of small ones, but that’s part of the game when you’re fighting hard. It was my plan to take this morning’s first stage steadily because it was the roughest. It isn’t one of my favourites and second time through there were many impacts in the ruts, so I was careful not to push too much again.”
Ogier and Paddon fought hard throughout the day as they exchanged places, the Frenchman had the tough task of sweeping the loose gravel as Latvala edged away and Paddon closed in.
It wasn’t straight forward for the Hyundai driver after making a few small mistakes in the opening stages and later being hampered by a minor damper issue.
Andreas Mikkelsen put in a consistent performance to finish the day in fourth place, passing Spaniard Dani Sordo, who lost time with a sticking throttle.
Mads Østberg continues his steady approach to the rally as he brought home his Ford Fiesta RS in sixth place ahead of Henning Solberg and a cautious Eric Camilli who is looking for a clean rally after starting the year badly.
Argentinian Marcos Ligato ended the day in ninth place despite losing three minutes after sliding in to a bank, the local driver was forced to stop to assess the damage and remove the broken bumper blocking his DS3’s radiator inlet
Thierry Neuville rounded out the top 10 as he rebuilt his confidence in the car that lacked in the early stages, his day wasn’t without incident though after losing nearly six minutes with a loose connection in the fuel system.
Ott Tänak and Lorenzo Bertelli were forced out of the rally, the Estonian was running in sixth place until a jammed alternator put him out while Bertelli lost all engine power in his Fiesta RS.