OGIER’S EARLY LED IN QUEST FOR FIRST ARGENTINA WIN

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OGIER’S EARLY LED IN QUEST FOR FIRST ARGENTINA WIN

PHOTO: The winners of the first four 2017 WRC rounds, from left, Sébastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford), Jari-Matti Larvala (Toyota), Kris Meeke (Citroën) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) line up at Villa Carlos Paz before the start of Rally Argentina (Red Bull pic)

SÉBASTIEN Ogier led YPF Rally Argentina after flinging his Ford Fiesta to fastest time through Thursday evening’s curtain-raising speed test in the heart of Cordoba city.

A spectacular night-time mixed-surface street stage in Cordoba city kicked off the YPF Rally Argentina action. First used 12 months ago and run in a modified format this year, it featured several donuts at roundabouts and a jump to entertain large crowds.

The FIA World Rally Championship leader thrilled the big crowds lining the 1.75km special stage as he scorched round the asphalt and gravel roads 0.9sec faster than a tying Dani Sordo and Elfyn Evans.

Ogier, who is bidding for a first win in the south American classic, said: “I tried to push and I’m quite happy with my driving in there.”

Sordo felt he could have been quicker in his Hyundai i20 Coupe, but both he and Welshman Evans, driving another Fiesta, enjoyed a clean run.

Fourth-placed Thierry Neuville was 1.7sec off the lead in another i20, the Belgian regretting a small mistake in the opening corner.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s Toyota Yaris and Mads Østberg’s Fiesta completed the top six. Latvala, who won this morning’s shakedown, also believed he could have shaved a few tenths from his time.

The action continues on Friday in the Calamuchita valley. Drivers face identical morning and afternoon loops of three fast and sandy tests, followed by a fan-favourite super special stage at a theme park on the edge of Villa Carlos Paz. The eight tests add up to 140.56km.