Jari-Matti Latvala finished day two of Rally Argentina with a 17-second lead over Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier after an action packed four stages.
The two VW drivers traded blows all day long over the four stages. Ogier was superior on both the shorter Santa Catalina – La Pampa stages but Latvala was able to hit back on both the long runs over the 52 kilometre Ascochinga stage.
Latvala was an impressive 18 seconds faster than Ogier on the longer stage but Latvala remains cautious going into day three. “It feels good to be leading the Rally Argentina at the moment,” said the Finn. “I only have a slight advantage and there’s still a long way to go. The first stage this morning was rougher and more difficult at race pace than we thought.”
VW had hoped for a podium sweep with Andreas Mikkelsen running in third but due to a mechanical issue he was forced to stop on the Ascochinga stage. Mikkelsen will rejoin on Saturday under Rally 2 rules.
Mikkelsen wasn’t the only casualty on day two though. Two of VW’s main rivals fell away on the Santa Catalina stage. Mikko Hirvonen had a huge accident in his M-Sport Ford and was unable to continue, while Mads Ostberg tore a wheel off his Citroen and was also unable to carry on.
Both Hyundai’s also encountered various issues throughout the day. Thierry Neuville had been running fourth but eventually suffered with technical issues on stage five, while Dani Sordo, who’s car had been repaired earlier in the day stopped out on stage with engine problems.
These problems left the door open for cautious drivers Kris Meeke, Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica to grab third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Leading positions after SS5:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala VW 1h57m36.3s
2. Sebastien Ogier VW +17.7s
3. Kris Meeke Citroen +1m07.4s
4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +3m48.1s
5. Robert Kubica M-Sport Ford +3m48.3s
6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +4m12.2s
7. Nasser Al-Attiyah M-Sport Ford +5m36.8s*
8. Yuriy Protasov Ford +8m22.0s*
9. Diego Dominguez Skoda +10m36.5s*
10. Gustavo Saba Ford +11m43.0s*