OTT Tänak was a convincing winner of Thursday night’s opening stage at Xion Rally Argentina to lead the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship into the overnight halt.
PHOTO: Tänak blasts his Toyota to an early lead in Rally Argentina (Jaanus Ree/WRC Media pic)
The Toyota Yaris driver’s performance over a 1.9km street stage in host town Villa Carloz Paz was put into perspective by the fact the following six drivers were blanketed by only seven-tenths of a second.
Tänak dealt superbly with the slippery roads, but admitted he does not know what to expect from conditions on Friday when competitors head into the gravel road stages after so much rain over the past few days.
“We don’t know how bad the conditions will be, but I expect them to be really tricky. If a rally driver says it will be tricky, then it will be tough!” he said.
Sébastien Ogier, driving a Citroën C3, finished 0.1sec clear of Kris Meeke’s Yaris. Andreas Mikkelsen was a further 0.3sec back in the leading Hyundai i20, a tenth clear of team-mate and championship leader Thierry Neuville.
Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala tied for sixth. Teemu Suninen was the only top driver to encounter any issues, the Finn spinning his Ford Fiesta shortly before the finish. He was 10th fastest.
On Friday competitors journey south to the Calamuchita Valley’s soft and rolling landscape.
They face two identical loops of three fast and sandy tests, separated by a super special stage at Carlos Paz’s theme park. The seven tests cover 145.92km.