Defending World Champion Sébastien Ogier was once again fastest out of the blocks to win the opening stage of Rally Argentina with a blistering run in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.
The Frenchman ended the first session 3.0 seconds faster than second place Mads Ostberg over the 6.04km super special stage on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Paz.
Although Ogier currently has a sizable advantage over the rest of the field going into day two he was still not overly satisfied with his performance: “My drive was OK,” said the Frenchman. “But the set-up was maybe a bit stiff. I’ve driven this stage better in the past.”
Ostberg, who finished second in a tight opening stage which saw cars from second down to sixth separated by only 2.4 seconds, admitted that he made a slight mistake on his second run which cost him valuable time in his Citroen DS3. He was however able to get the better of fellow Norwegian driver Andreas Mikkelsen.
Mikkelsen only just held on to third to stay ahead of the two battling Finns, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarri-Matti Latvala, who finished fourth and fifth respectively.
The Hyundai of Thierry Neuville finished day one sixth, while Ostberg’s Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke made no mistakes but could only manage to finish eight behind the other Hyundai i20 of Dani Sordo in seventh.
Robert Kubica, Elfyn Evans and Martin Prokop finished the stage disappointingly way off the pace down in thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.
Day two sees the drivers tackle two long stages which are repeated in the afternoon after service. The Ascochinga to Agua de Oro stage is 51.88km long and is one of the longest tests of the season.