by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 4
T HE bulls in the pampas walked away with Rally Argentina. Red Bull signage was blazoned across the sides of both Sebastien Loeb’s winning Citroen C4 World Rally Car and also on the PCWRC winning Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of Red Bull’s own protege driver Andreas Aigner. For the Austrian drinks company, their first appearance with the Citroen team was clearly a great success, but both wins came through anything but a wild approach. The muddiest and roughest rally in recent times led to an unprecedented amount of suspension and related damage, and both Loeb and Aigner left their rivals to make the initial running, and their quieter approach won the event. Argentina witnessed a remarkable improvement in World Rally Car fortunes for Subaru, which looked to have two places on the podium before Petter Solberg’s last morning retirement. Citroen’s other rivals were the various Ford teams, for whom this event was a disappointment. Of the seven usually reliable Focusses which started the rally, only four were eventually classified. By the end of Day 2 only two were still running, the only Fords to drive the full route of the rally. After many tribulations the new Suzuki team finished in the points for the third time this year when they brought one car to the finish. Day 1 The rally started off looking to be a walkover for Ford. Surviving atrocious conditions of thick fog and muddy tracks, Mikko Hirvonen pulled out an amazing 48.1 seconds on the first stage and led for the first four stages. Ford’s problems started on stage two when Jari-Matti Latvala, running second, went off the road and lost nine minutes getting back again. By midday on Day 1 Loeb was lying second, albeit 50 seconds behind Hirvonen. Then on stage five Hirvonen stopped with suspension damage, and Loeb found himself nearly a minute ahead of the two Subarus of Atkinson and Solberg, who had been delayed by a broken shock absorber. Latvala was the fastest driver of the day and by evening had got back to eighth place. The Munchi’s team lost Luis Perez Companc who slid off the road. Weather conditions meant that spectator cars late leaving the stage were halted by a swollen river crossing and the mechanics could not recover Companc’s car until the next morning - too late for him to continue. Day 2 On Day 2, Latvala was back again but was immediately in trouble. He had a heavy impact on a rock without apparent damage but at the start of the following stage he discovered the battery connection was broken and he could not restart the engine. He exceeded the permitted lateness before being able to continue. The roads were meanwhile damaging exhausts on the other Fords, causing overheating of the floor panels to such an extent that Gianluigi Galli’s electrical wiring was wrecked. He had worked his way up to fourth overall at the time. Matthew Wilson stopped with damaged suspension when fifth and Federico Villagra who had been sixth was delayed when smoke filled the car. Ford’s loss was Subaru’s gain as attention was directed to the fight between the Subaru teammates for second place. Atkinson led Solberg at the end of Day 1 but then, curiously, Solberg passed him on Day 2. The Australian was evasive: “A small issue we know about,” was all he would say. “Got to ensure we both finish.” Sounded a bit like team orders to outsiders. By the end of Day 2 Solberg was nearly 50 seconds ahead of his Australian teammate. Day 3 The final day may have been short but nothing was being taken for granted. Solberg retired with electrical failure, his brother Henning and Matthew Wilson with suspension failure, so the Frenchman at the head of the field cruised to his 39th World rally win and took the lead in the Drivers’ series. Despite their problems both BP Abu Dhabi Fords finished in the Manufacturers’ points and head Citroen Total by three points. Loeb was happy, “I am just relieved that I gained enough of an early lead not to have to drive hard in the awful conditions like the others had to.” 39 WRC argentina >>