FIA RALLY NEWS 

COMING EVENT - 26th Rally Argentina (27-30 April 2006


6th round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2006, 3rd round of the Pdoduction Car World Championship 2006, 4th round of the Junior World Championship 2006

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY ARGENTINA
Media FIA Pre-event Press Conference
27.04.2006

Pre-event FIA Press Conference
Thursday April 27, 2006

Present:
Marcos Ligato (PWRC)
Toshihiro Arai (PWRC)
Patrik Sandell (JWRC)
Guy Wilks (JWRC)
Manfred Stohl – OMV Peugeot Norway
Luis Perez Companc – Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team
Petter Solberg – Subaru World Rally Team
Sébastien Loeb – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
Mikko Hirvonen – BP-Ford World Rally Team

Welcome to the pre-event FIA press conference.

Q:
Hello Marcos. You’re competing on home territory, does that make a big difference and do you have a lot of local support? How disappointed will you be if you do not win here, or will you be happy enough with a podium?

ML:
Welcome to everybody, it’s a pleasure for us to have a World Championship rally here. For us it’s a pleasure to have an event like this in our country and it’s very special for me, for the Tango Rally Team. This rally will be very important to have a good result for the team – for myself and the other drivers, Sebastian Beltran and Gabriel Pozzo. I don’t want to think about the result. We will try to have a good podium. We are three good drivers, we know the event well and have a good car. We tested on Monday and the feeling was very good. If we could win, it would be very good.

Q:
Nasser Al-Attiyah is leading the Championship; do you think you will be able to get past him here? Does this mean that you have to push hard from the start?

TA:
It doesn’t matter, he has done two rallies and I’ve done one. I try to win, but it will be difficult for me. Argentina is very fast, but at the same time I don’t want to lose points – I want to be at the finish. I want to try to have a steady pace in some places and go faster in some; I will use the brain.

Q:
Guy, you had problems on the first round of the JWRC in Sweden which means that you start with zero points. What’s the plan for Argentina? Like everybody else in the JWRC, you’ve not been here before, but from what you have seen in the recce, do you think this is going to be your sort of event?

GW:
Thanks for pointing that out! This is the second round and we have to do our best. Everybody wants to win and we’re no different. Everybody says you need experience in the WRC – I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think you are allowed to gain experience anymore; you have to get in and mix it straight away. Some of the teams who have competed here before at different times of the year have been surprised at the state of the roads; we’re not that surprised. It’s not a problem for myself and the team to compete, we’re capable on every surface. It’s about keeping out of trouble here, but it will be hard without mousse in the tyres. It would be so easy to get a puncture, but at the same time you can’t be too slow or you’ll be off the pace. We came with an open mind; if we’d looked at previous years we would have been surprised. Some of the stages are really fast and flowing like New Zealand, others are really tight – in Condor you have to be so precise. The surface varies as much as the stages.

Q:
You had a good result in Sweden, your home rally; this though is going to be very different. How optimistic do you feel that you can get a good result again? How much experience do you have on this type of terrain?

PSandell:
This is my first time in South America and my first event in the S1600 car on gravel. We tested on Monday and it was very good. We’re looking forward to it. Maybe my lack of experience of the WRC could be a problem, but you have to drive with your head and make a very good rally.

Q:
How well do you know these roads? What advice would you give people like Patrik who are here for the first time?

ML:
I think it’s a difficult rally for the first time. Like Guy says, it’s very fast in some parts and twisty in other parts. You have to be careful in the water splashes as you can stop in them. But you will enjoy a nice rally.

Q:
There are a lot of strong local drivers here, like Marcos – how big a threat are they?

TA:
He has a lot of experience and he knows the roads very well. This year, some places have a good surface. He will be very, very quick, I think.

Q:
You’ve not competed since Sweden more than two months ago, how tricky is it going to be to get back into the rhythm?

GW:
It’s always nice to get back in rally car – it’s what I love doing. As far as getting back into a rhythm, I remember worrying about it earlier in my career, but now it feels natural to find the ultimate confidence in a very short space of time.

Q:
There are some stages run at very high altitude: do you think that it will be difficult for the Super 1600 cars? How demanding do you think this rally will be for drivers – do you have to be very fit?

PSandell:
I don’t think there should be any big problems in the S1600 cars, but it could be tougher on the World Rally Cars. We tested on Monday; it was a really good test. The stage was almost the same as the ones we drove on the recce. You have to be careful, though, there are many big rocks. I have to try and stay on the road.

Q:
Hi Petter. After Corsica you said you were looking forward to Argentina. You’re here now, so what do you think is possible? Is there any tactic other than going flat-out from the very start?

PS:
I am ready! That’s all I can say and things are looking good. The car works very well. We have done some improvements from Mexico, we’re still not happy but it’s much better. There’s no tactic; I’m just going to go for it. I’m fed-up with second place and not winning.

Q:
But of course Seb, you were the winner last year. What are your chances of doing it again? Who is the biggest threat – Petter or Marcus?

SL:
It’s difficult to say. I hope I have some good chance. I will try. Okay, I’m sure Petter and Marcus will push very hard but I will try to fight. The biggest threat is hard to know, we will see tomorrow. Marcus is really confident with the new car and Petter had a difficult two or three last rallies, but I am sure he will be competitive here.

Q:
You drive the same Ford Focus as Marcus: how good do you think his chances are? What about you – you have less experience than Marcus in Argentina, but you certainly have a good car underneath you. Is it possible that you can even challenge for a win?

MH:
For win? Well I’m sure I will try. Like you say, I wasn’t here last year, but that’s not such a big thing. I’ve done the rally twice and feel I know the stages quite well. I will push, the car works quite well – like we saw in Mexico. I think Marcus might have a chance, actually…!

Q:
Luis, you are another Ford driver, but in the 2005 car. How far up the field do you think you can get, realistically? Do you have a lot of local knowledge of these roads?

LPC:
I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Getting in the points is going to be tough, we’ll see. I know these roads from the national championship and will try to go fast, but I have to be secure – I have to make the finish, too. I don’t know if it’s an advantage – I think the others will be at the same level.

Q:
Of course Manfred, when we talk about experience we have to remember that you are about to rack up 100 WRC starts here in Argentina: only Marcus Gronholm has more on 125.

MS:
First I have to say I make most of those rallies in a Group N car. In the World Rally Car, I’m still a rookie. I still enjoy it and I would like to think about 100 more, if possible 200, we will see. It depends if I like it and if the sponsor stays behind me – I hope it will be much more.

Q:
This year the rally moves to April, which means that conditions are likely to be warmer and drier than they were last year. Is that bad news for you? Would you rather it was wetter? What are the latest developments from Pirelli for this event?

PS:
It doesn’t matter. It’s better for the spectators and the people in El Condor. Last year, up there, it was minus one and windy. It’s better at this time of the year. As for the car, there’s so much development, I can’t tell you – I have a big list; it’s incredible! Pirelli has done a step, a small step, but we’re going to need it on this rally.

Q:
Do you think tyres will play a major factor on this event? Do you think you prefer the rally in April or in July?

SL:
The stages are nearly the same. It was less rough last year, more stones coming out this year. It’s really dry from the summer, so it’s very rocky. The ruts can be deeper with some big stones in the bottom. It can be tough on the tyres. I think I prefer the stages after the winter.

Q:
Mikko, in Corsica you had a good fight with Dani Sordo, but he eventually finished third. Do you think this is where you can take your revenge? Is your emphasis going to be on scoring points again, or going as quick as you can? Has your boss, Malcolm Wilson, suggested anything?

MH:
Well, he’s been really fast on Tarmac and improving on gravel. He will do well, it’s going to be a good fight, but I don’t just want to beat him here… We’ll see; on Friday I will push, then we’ll see what happens on Saturday. I need the points, I need the finish and as high as possible. Believe me, Malcolm has a lot of advice – always good advice.

Q:
What about you Luis? Are there any team orders?

LPC:
Finishing the rally is my goal.

Q:
Sébastien, you have a good lead in the Championship, how does that affect your approach to the event?

SL:
It doesn’t make any difference. If I see Petter or Marcus is too fast for me, or if I have to take a big risk to stay with them, then perhaps I say no. But as long as I can fight for the victory, I will do that. We have 11 rallies to go, if I start to finish second now, the season can be very long.

Q:
Petter, any concerns about reliability? We spoke earlier about the weather, which is likely to be drier, but of course there will still be some water splashes – around 27 of them. Do you have any worries about them?

PS:
Everything is perfect. No worries.

Q:
Manfred, let’s finish off with you. You’re more than quarter of the way through your very first full season in the WRC. How do you think it has gone so far? Have the results been better or worse than your expectations? What sort of a difference has it made to you now that you are in the car for every rally?

MS:
I am quite happy. It works well this year. We were not good on Tarmac, but now we have three gravel rallies and I’m happy. I hope we can make a good result here. It’s a big difference being in the car all the time. In 2002/03 I did a few rallies in WRC, but all of the time I was spending the first day getting used to the car. Now I feel confident from the first stage – it makes a big difference for me.

Rally Preview

Team Previews:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

 

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

 

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

 

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

 

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Luis Pérez Companc / Jose Maria Volta (RA)

 

Event Timetable

 

Leading positions after the first day of the rally:

Leaderboard after leg one:

1.  S Loeb/D Elena  F Citroen Xsara 1hr 53min 58.7sec
2.  P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 1hr 54min 18.5sec
3.  G Galli/G Bernacchini I Peugeot 307 1hr 54min 58.1sec
4.  M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 1hr 55min 10.8sec
5.  H Solberg/C Menkerud N Peugeot 307 1hr 55min 30.5sec
6.  D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 1hr 56min 13.8sec
7.  C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 1hr 56min 28.1sec
8.  M Wilson/M Orr GB Ford Focus RS 1hr 58min 07.4sec
9.  L Perez Companc/J-M Volta ARG Ford Focus RS 1hr 58min 44.8sec
10 G MacHale/P Nagle IRL Ford Focus RS 2hr 01min 05.9sec

Leg 1 News

The opening leg of Rally Argentina, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, has thrown up dramas for many of the leading crews. However, reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb has once again taken the lead after setting four fastest stage times. The Citroën Xsara WRC driver has a 19.8 second advantage after 10 stages and 159 competitive kilometres of the South American event. Second position is held by Petter Solberg, the Subaru driver finally finding some luck after a poor start to the season. He briefly led the event but has suffered some problems that dropped him back down the leaderboard. He hit a gatepost, sustained two punctures and incurred a lateness penalty during the day’s action, but moved back up the leaderboard when Marcus Grönholm hit problems. The Finn, leader of the rally for three stages, lost drive in the eighth stage and Ford’s disappointing day continued when team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was on the sidelines with an engine problem after the same stage. Italian Gigi Galli therefore moves up the leaderboard and on to the provisional podium in third position. The Peugeot 307 WRC driver has driven steadily throughout the leg, avoiding problems, to lead a trio of Peugeots in Argentina. Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) celebrated his 100th WRC start with fastest time on the final stage to hold fourth ahead of team-mate Henning Solberg, who survived tyre troubles, a broken differential and a small off this morning. Another major retirement was Xavi Pons (Citroen) who stopped with an oil leak after hitting a rock early in stage six and his car briefly caught fire. He will restart tomorrow. 

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

At the end of a gruelling first leg, which comprised almost half the competitive distance of the rally, Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC returned to the Feriar Complex in Cordoba leading the event. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were sixth overnight, having predictably climbed a steep learning curve. Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio were forced into retirement halfway through the day following a small 'off'. They will re-start tomorrow under the super rally regulations.

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: « On the last stage of the day, I really thought for a moment that I was going to lose my lead. The first few kilometres were really sandy : there was no grip and I made a series of mistakes. I hit the side of the road about three times and I nearly spun twice. I really had to calm things down then. It's on stretches of road like that where you realise how much work the active differentials used to do. Tomorrow is going to be almost as long as today and the stages are going to be just as varied. We're going to have a lot of fun, although our plan is still to attack. Marcus is no longer in the running, but there's always Petter. »

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: 'Cabalango/Carlos Paz' (SS6) was an unlucky one for Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio. The Spaniards slid wide on a corner and damaged the left-rear wheel. They tried to drive slowly to the end of the stage, but the impact had consequences for the transmission and fuel system - causing a small fire that was rapidly extinguished by the crew. Xevi and Carlos will re-start tomorrow with a 25-minute penalty (five per stage missed) under the super rally regulations.

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led Rally Argentina for much of today's opening leg until problems halted their Focus RS World Rally Car this afternoon. The Finns won two speed tests to build an advantage on this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship but their hopes of a third win of the season were dashed. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were third in a similar Focus RS when engine troubles brought their day to a premature end.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "About 8km after the start of the stage I came into a corner and the car stalled. I restarted the engine but could not select any gears. I locked the differentials and covered another 300 metres but then we came to another tight corner and that was it. I don't know what the problem was but obviously I'm really disappointed to retire when things were going so well,"

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "About 1km after the finish, on the liaison section, the engine dropped onto three cylinders. We stopped to change the spark plugs but that didn't cure the problem. We continued a little further and stopped again to change the electronic control unit. That didn't work either. So with two stages left before service, we decided to stop so that we didn't damage the engine further and the team could examine it to see if we can start tomorrow under SupeRally."

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

Petter Solberg holds second place overall at the end of Leg one of Rally Argentina. Solberg was fastest on three of the Leg's nine stages and will start tomorrow's second day of competition less than 20 seconds behind rally leader Sebastien Loeb. On only his second Rally Argentina, Chris Atkinson lies in seventh place.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "It's been a very interesting day, a lot has happened to us, but it's good fun fighting at the top and winning stages, that's where we belong. The gap between me and Sebastien is less than 20 seconds now - of course it's hard not to imagine where I could have been without losing time here and there today, but that's the game and we have two days still to come. I'm feeling very good about things and am really looking forward to tomorrow."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "It's been a tough day. We started out well and set a couple of top three times, but struggled this afternoon. The surface was very rutted and the handling of the car has seemed inconsistent - especially on the last stage - because of this we've had to be quite cautious and have lost time. But we'll keep pushing as hard as we can and hopefully move up some places."

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

It was a day of light and shadows for Manfred Stohl. The OMV driver was in third place at the beginning of leg one. But a tyre damage on special stage six threw him back to seventh place. Following the service the 33-year-old Austrian went into attack mode. The OMV duo Stohl/Minor gained place by place and finished the first leg in fourth place. The highlight was special stage best time on SS 10, the fifth in the OMV driver’s career. OMV Teammate Henning Solberg is completely satisfied with fifth intermediate place. Following a rather cautious beginning the OMV duo gained speed by the kilometre. 

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: “It is extremely difficult here to judge whether one is fast or slow. On the last special stage, for instance, I had the feeling we had lost a lot of time – and then it turned out to be best time. Everyone is driving at their limit here. It is surely going to be very exciting during the next days. But we still have reserves which we will tap on Saturday.“

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerus: “It is our first start here. But we gave a good fight already on Friday afternoon. The conditions suit us. Fifth place is great but we will try our all to move up even further. The Peugeot 307 WRC feels very good and is perfectly tuned.“

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Luis Pérez Companc / Jose Maria Volta (RA)

The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team ended the first leg of Rally Argentina with both cars inside the overall top ten despite the tough and gruelling nature of the dusty rock strewn stages around Cordoba in central Argentina, with 19 year-old British driver Matthew Wilson 37 seconds ahead of team-mate and local favourite, Luis Perez Companc.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "I think we had four punctures this morning. It was the second stage which really hurt us. Near the start there was a rock just over a crest. That gave us the first puncture, but the tyre stayed up. Then, half way through the stage, there was a massive rock in the line and I just hit it. That punctured the front and the rear so we had to swap things around. A tyre then went down on the road section, so we had to put a flat one back on, so on the last stage this morning with four punctures and no spare we were very careful. We were lucky with the jump, jeez it was close. We had 'crest, jump, right' but we took off and landed with half the car off the road and there was a massive rock sticking out of the grass and it hit the sill. We were lucky. The last stage of the day was very difficult, it felt like we had a broken anti roll bar but it just goes to show what you can do if you try and be neat and tidy, it certainly worked for us. Today was a real challenge, it's the longest day in rallying I've ever done, it feels like I've driven to the moon and back. It's a real achievement to be here."

Luis Perez Companc/ J-M Volta: "The stages are very rough. The third stage was very twisty, with a lot of rocks, but it was no problem we just had to take it slowly and take care. Eight stages today and the car is in one piece, it's as strong as a tank. There's a lot of people cheering me on, and I'm grateful to them because it is good to see them, I'm very happy. The stadium start was incredible, there was a lot of people and it made it nervous for me. We wanted to finish the Leg today and as we've finished the leg we're in a good position. It's incredible, the people are everywhere, I have to give them a spectacle."

Leading positions after the second day of the rally:

1 LOEB (Citroen) 03:31:03.6
2 P SOLBERG (Subaru) +43.1
3 GALLI (Peugeot) +02:36.4
4 H SOLBERG (Peugeot) +03:36.8
5 STOHL (Peugeot) +03:41.1
6 ATKINSON (Subaru) +04:22.7
7 SORDO (Citroen) +05:04.0
8 PEREZ COMPANC (Ford) +09:26.6
9 WILSON (Ford) +09:37.5
10 GRÖNHOLM (Ford) +14:20.8

Driver's comments after Leg 2

Leg 2 News

Frenchman Sébastien Loeb looks set to claim his fourth consecutive victory in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, having extended his lead during the second leg of Rally Argentina. The Citroën Xsara WRC driver only set one fastest time from today’s eight stages but goes into the final day of competition with a 43.1 second advantage. Petter Solberg maintains second overall, however the Subaru Impreza WRC driver lost time this morning when the gear-shift paddle snapped and he was hampered by the wrong tyre choice. Despite slipping further behind Loeb, he nevertheless claimed two fastest stage times and holds on to a comfortable lead over third-placed Italian Gigi Galli, in the Peugeot 307 WRC. Henning Solberg, brother of Petter, has climbed up the leaderboard into fourth position, claiming his first-ever fastest WRC stage time - which was ironically shared with Petter - during the day’s competition. A series of spins this morning sees Austrian Manfred Stohl slip to fifth while Subaru’s Chris Atkinson rounds off the top six. Marcus Grönholm, who was forced out of the action yesterday, returned today under permitted re-start regulations. The Finn set four fastest stage times and climbs from an overnight 18th to 10th. Tomorrow’s final leg covers just four stages and 41.30 competitive kilometres, but it will be no cruise to the finish with the running of two of the most famous and spectacular stages in the 16-round Championship.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

Kronos Citroen

After a controlled and entirely trouble-free day aboard their Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena emerged from the final stage of leg two – Santa Rosa de Calamuchita/San Agustin (SS18) – in the lead. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were equally flawless throughout a tricky second leg to maintain sixth. Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio, competing under the super rally regulations, had the satisfaction of winning Ascochinga/La Cumbre (SS13). It was the Spaniard's first ever fastest time on the World Rally Championship. Today's competitive action, comprising 150 kilometres of stages, was almost as long as yesterday's opening leg. The route was a tricky proposition, taking in the well-known stages of the Calamuchita valley that are simultaneously rapid yet bumpy. Road conditions were made even more difficult by the morning's weather. Heavy rain had fallen in the Punilla valley, which contained the first four stages, and two of them even got underway in thick fog. The Kronos team, ably backed up by BFGoodrich's engineers, had fortunately sent out its three Xsaras on soft tyres – which proved to be a judicious choice. Sébastien Loeb started the day with 20 seconds in hand over his nearest rival, Petter Solberg. The reigning World Champion made fast but careful progress through the mud and mist to end up with a lead of nearly a minute after Cabalango/Carlos Paz (SS14), just before midday service. On the rollercoaster ride of the afternoon stages, Seb sensibly maintained his advantage.

Sebastien Loeb: The Citroen driver currently leads by 43 seconds heading into tomorrow's 41 competitive kilometres. "It wasn't an easy day, what with all the jumps and high-speed water splashes" he said. "I've managed to build up a bit of lead and my aim is to keep it throughout tomorrow's short leg. There's a sting in the tail of this rally though : two very rough and narrow stages, where above all I've got to steer clear of trouble."

Xevi Pons: First on the road today was Xevi Pons, disappointed yesterday after the ‘off' that forced him to retire from the opening leg. He said: "This morning's stages in the damp were not bad at all. I got my confidence back in La Falda (SS11). In La Cumbre – which we didn't get the chance to drive yesterday – I was nonetheless second-fastest. The on the following stage I was quickest. To manage that today was fantastic : nothing could have done more for my confidence. So that was good. The afternoon was more difficult though. The weather stayed dry, which meant that I was sweeping all the loose gravel. This will be the case again tomorrow, but I'm delighted to be driving again in front of such an enthusiastic Argentine public."

Dani Sordo: Had already said that Argentina would be a case of back to school again, so the asphalt high-flyer duly became a diligent student of gravel. Dani reported: "Today's conditions were really difficult for somebody like me who is new to gravel, with mud, slippery stages and fog in the morning. But I really liked the fast stages in the afternoon with all those high-speed jumps. I spun on my first run through ‘Santa Rosa', but I felt a bit more comfortable on the second run. I've still got a lot to learn though, especially on Mina Clavero and El Condor tomorrow."

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

 

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

Petter Solberg again demonstrated the Impreza WRC2006’s competitive pace on gravel. The Norwegian set two fastest stage times to consolidate his second place overall. With 41km remaining on Sunday’s final day of competition, Petter is 43secs behind event leader Sébastien Loeb. Chris Atkinson drove consistently throughout the Leg and moved up one place to sixth overall. Atkinson later dropped back to seventh position when Stewards’ applied a one minute penalty for speeding in the service area.

SWRT sporting director, Luis Moya Of course I’m a little disappointed because we came here for the victory and it now looks like that target will be difficult to achieve. But, on the other hand, we should be pleased with the performance of our cars today. Mechanically, both have been very reliable ever since we started the rally. Petter has set some very good times, as well as the stage wins on SS16 and SS17 and Chris has also improved his pace.

Petter Solberg: In fact it’s been quite a good day, even though it didn’t get off to a great start. First we made a bad tyre choice and that cost us a lot of time, and then I reckon we lost another six or seven seconds when the gear lever broke. But this afternoon was actually good and overall I’m pretty happy - we won two stages and our pace is better than the people behind. It was nice to share the stage win with Henning too - I don’t think two brothers have ever done that before - I heard my mother and father were very happy! Tomorrow the stages are difficult, I know there are lot of bad rocks and anything can happen. The rally isn’t over yet – we all have to do those stages first.

Chris Atkinson: Driving 100km back to service on three tyres was quite a dramatic way to end the day, but on the whole it’s been okay. We ran at a consistent pace, moved up a place on the leader board and have done the best we can. I haven’t been able to get the car set up exactly as I’d have liked but I’ve adapted my driving to suit and hope to be able to get a points finish tomorrow - that’s the plan.

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

Even though the OMV Team chose the wrong tyres on the recommendation of the tyre manufacturer they still were able to defend their top positions four and five. They only exchanged positions within the OMV Team so that Henning Solberg (Nor) finished leg two in fourth place. But Manfred Stohl (Aut) is only 3,7 seconds behind. Usually a premiere at an event of the FIA World Rally Championship isn't a thing to take lightly. But Henning Solberg didn't show fear prior to his first start in Argentina. He knew that the characteristics of the special stages would suit him. Therefore, after two days and fourth intermediate place, the Norwegian OMV driver isn't really surprised by the intermediate result but rather happy. Saturday morning turned Manfred Stohl into a blade runner. Due to the wrong choice of tyres the Peugeot 307 WRC became nearly unsteerable on the muddy surface. Almost inevitable consequence were two spins which cost Stohl a lot of time, fourth place and the chance for the podium. For after the first SS of the day the 33-year-old OMV driver had been only four seconds behind Gigi Galli (Ita/Peugeot 307 WRC) in third place. In the afternoon things went better and Stohl caught up until he was only 3,7 seconds behind OMV Teammate Henning Solberg.

Henning Solberg: "Except for some minor problems everything went great so far. Which is, of course, also due to the background of a perfectly prepared car by Bozian Racing. And the Peugeot 307 WRC has always performed very well here in Argentina. I'll do my all to defend this place."

Manfred Stohl: "It's going to be a hot fight on Sunday. I'll definitely do my best to get past Henning. And who can say what will happen at the top? The two special stages, El Condor and Mina Clavero are among the toughest in the rally WRC. My experience should do me some good there."

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Luis Pérez Companc / Jose Maria Volta (RA)

The team provided the dice of the day for the multitudes of fans on the stages around the central Argentinean town of Cordoba as team-mates Matthew Wilson and Luis Perez Companc battled for eighth spot in the overall standings in the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Argentina. 19 year-old Matthew Wilson had the early advantage from the first leg of running on Friday and started the day 37 seconds ahead of Companc, but Saturday morning provided a surprise for the young British rally driver as the first stages of the day were enveloped by a thick fog compounding an already difficult job on the treacherous rock-rich route. Wilson relied on the notes read by co-driver Michael Orr and the duo fought their way to the midday service stop after the morning's 70km of competitive distance. It was not just the fog which presented a challenge either. A corner which had already claimed the tyres of two-time WRC champion and fellow M-Sport run Ford driver Marcos Gronholm also caught out Wilson's Ford Focus RS WRC 05 and the car slid wide and on to the large rocks lining the route. The car sustained panel damage, although not to a serious degree, but the incident, allied the superior experience of Companc, meant the gap between the two was down to 4.9secs as they left the service park for the second loop. The fast and flowing afternoon route, 80km over four stages, saw Companc close in and pass Wilson. Despite Companc's greater experience in his home event, Wilson didn't make life easy for the Argentinean, although the Brit was careful not to become too preoccupied with the position and risk pushing too hard. By the end of SS16 the gap was down to just half a second and on the next stage Companc had passed his younger team-mate for eighth and the championship point it brings with it. Saturday ended with Wilson just 10.9secs behind Companc with none other than Marcus Gronholm 4mins 43secs next down the order, the Finn running with 15 minutes of penalties for not completing Friday's stages.

Matthew Wilson: "The stages we did this afternoon were classic stages that have been in the Argentinean championship and the experience of Luis showed there. He didn't take a massive chunk on any one stage, but he did enough to get ahead of us and he picked up his pace to do that. On Sunday if the notes work right and we're driving nice and neat and tidy we should be alright but today was just so fast. You've got to have the commitment over the blind crests and braking into the slow stuff. I'm reasonably happy, we had just a few stupid mistakes in the fog this morning. We had an overshoot which probably cost us the most time then in the last stage today the grip was a lot better but I didn't exploit that enough. We're here, still in the rally, and that's the main thing and we're fit for tomorrow."

Luis Perez Companc: "It's been a very good day, a very good leg. I'm very happy that I could finally get to the eighth position and get some points. It was very nice having a good fight with Matthew. I was pushing very hard in the four stages this afternoon, I thought I would make a bigger difference from Matthew but he also was pushing hard so the difference between us was very small, but finally I got past him. Tomorrow we hope to keep the place and keep the car in one piece to the end of the rally."

Final positions after the third day of the rally:

1. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroen Xsara 4hr 06min 51.3sec
2. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 4hr 07min 35.9sec
3. G Galli/G Bernacchini I Peugeot 307 4hr 10min 15.6sec
4. M Stohl/I Minor A Peugeot 307 4hr 10min 31.3sec
5. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 4hr 12min 31.5sec
6. C Atkinson/G MacNeall AUS Subaru Impreza 4hr 12min 35.1sec
7. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Peugeot 307 4hr 16min 20.0sec
8. M Wilson/M Orr GB Ford Focus RS 4hr 17min 25.9sec
9. L Perez Companc/J-M Volta ARG Ford Focus RS 4hr 17min 43.6sec
10 M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Ford Focus RS 4hr 21min 00.0sec

Driver's comments after Leg 3

Leg 3 News

The Citroën Xsara WRC crew of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena racked up a fourth consecutive victory in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship today when they won Rally Argentina. The Frenchman, who also won the event last year, now takes a commanding 21 point advantage in the FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers, while his Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team inch further ahead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Loeb’s overnight lead afforded him some luxury today, but with two of the Championship’s most famous and unforgiving stages run in the final leg, there was no room for error. He then powered through the final two super special stages in Cordoba’s packed stadium to claim maximum points and his second victory in Argentina. Despite concerns about heavy steering this morning, Norway’s Petter Solberg finished second in the Subaru Impreza WRC, equalling his best result of the season. Italy’s Gigi Galli claimed his first-ever podium position, finishing third overall in a Peugeot 307 WRC. Britain’s Matthew Wilson (Ford Focus), the youngest competitor in the series at 19, won his first stage and also took points in the series for the first time in his career by finishing eighth. Marcus Grönholm ultimately finished 10th after problems in the opening leg and, although the Ford driver retains second in the Championship standings, the gap to Loeb has been significantly increased.

Team News:

Manufacturer 1: Kronos Total Citroen World Rally Team / Citroën Xsara WRC
1 Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (F/MC)
2 Xavier Pons / Carlos del Barrio (E)

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena leave Cordoba with 10 championship points as reward for their second consecutive victory on the Rally Argentina. This success, their second gravel win of the year after Mexico, is also the fourth of the year for the Franco-Monegasque pairing - who now take their total of career victories up to 24. Sebastien currently has an equal number of wins to Tommi Mäkinen, and is now headed only by Colin McRae (on 25 wins) and Carlos Sainz (on 26). Daniel Elena equals the record number of wins for a co-driver.

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "Everything about this rally is breathtaking. The scenery, the high-speed water splashes and above all the fantastic welcome we get from the Argentine fans, who give us the best reception in the world. My Citroen was as reliable, fast and consistent as usual. That was just as well, because this rally was particularly difficult this year - mostly down to the weather. We had a good fight with Marcus [Grönholm] on the first day and that continued with Petter [Solberg] yesterday. For all those reasons, winning here is a special pleasure for me. As well as that, myself and Daniel extend our lead in the drivers championship while Kronos does the same in the constructors standings. As I still think we'll have a tight battle on our hands this year, that's no bad thing."

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "One of my objectives is to gain confidence. There's nothing better than setting fastest times to help that along. Seb has proved that the Xsara has nothing to fear from any of its rivals. With some experience and hard work, I need to make more and more use of the car's potential. My goal is to help Kronos defend its position at the head of the manufacturers' championship. »

Manufacturer 1: BP- Ford World Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC06
3 Marcus Grönholm / Timo Rautiainen (FIN)
4 Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN)

Ford extended its record-breaking run of points finishes in the FIA World Rally Championship to 66 when Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen finished 10th on Rally Argentina today. The Finns recovered from first-day transmission troubles while leading to climb back onto the leaderboard and claim a manufacturer point to extend the longest scoring run in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "The time loss on Friday was a shame and left us struggling for a result. Tenth gave the team a point but it obviously wasn't what I wanted and I'm disappointed. I had hoped for more. At least I was able to come back and set several fastest times over the second and third legs and show again that the car has plenty of pace. The rally wasn't hard on tyres, despite the long sections with no opportunity to fit new rubber, and our engineers and those from BFGoodrich made some good choices. The stage in the soccer stadium was a spectacular show. As a driver, it's great to perform in front of so many people in such a great atmosphere."

Manufacturer 1: Subaru World Rally Team / Subaru Impreza WRC 2006
5 Petter Solberg / Philip Mills (N/GB)
6 Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall (AUS)

Petter Solberg finished Rally Argentina in second place. Solberg set the fastest time through one of the toughest tests in the WRC, the classic El Condor pass, to secure his second podium of the season. The Subaru World Rally Team concluded a successful Rally Argentina with a double-points finish as Chris Atkinson recorded two top five times to finish sixth.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "I wanted to win here but I think to finish second is still very good, we can't complain because things went almost according to the plan. I tried everything and we would have had a very good chance of winning this rally if it wasn't for the problems we had, but underneath it all I'm feeling much more positive. The car is getting there now, we're back fighting for the lead and I can go for an attack - it's been a long time since I felt like this. I'm looking forward to the next rally!"

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "It's been a difficult rally for us, it started out quite well, we were running in a high position early on, but then some problems with the car and a mistake from me cost us a lot of time. We struggled back up the order and then got a minute penalty - if it wasn't for that, I think we could have been fighting for a much better result. But that's life, we learned a lot here and we'll see what we can do in Sardinia."

Manufacturer 2: OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team / Peugeot 307 WRC
7 Manfred Stohl / Ilka Minor (A)
8 Henning Solberg / Cato Menkerud (N)

The Rally Argentina was further proof that Manfred Stohl belongs among the top performers in rallying. The 33-year-old OMV driver only missed the podium by an inch at his 100th WRC start and finished in excellent fourth place. He currently shares fourth place in the World Championship with Petter Solberg (No/Subaru). Henning Solberg had lots of bad luck. The Norwegian OMV driver fell back from fifth to seventh place on the last super stage since the clutch of the Peugeot WRC 307 stopped working right in the middle of the stadium-stage. The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team and Team Manager Jackie Bozian are nevertheless happy about having scored ten points in the manufacturer WRC.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "It was my present to Ilka, who is celebrating her birthday today. Unfortunately we were not able to quite catch up with Galli. But making good almost 45 seconds on two special stages gives me a lot of self-confidence. We are very satisfied and feel invigorated for the next two gravel-rallies in Sardinia and Greece. I believe that we might be able to reach the podium then."

Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "That is part of the game. It can happen anytime. Of course, it is a bitter pill when you're so close to the finish. There is still a positive side to it for now we are seventh and know that we were actually much faster. It would have been much worse had we reached this place because we simply weren't able to attack anymore. Therefore I really mustn't be dissatisfied.

Manufacturer 2: Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team / Ford Focus RS WRC04
9 Matthew Wilson / Michael Orr (GB)
10 Luis Pérez Companc / Jose Maria Volta (RA)

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson has scored his first ever FIA World Rally Championship point, taking an eighth place finish in Rally Argentina on the same day as setting his first fastest WRC stage time. Wilson, at 19, is believed to be the youngest driver to take a driver point in the WRC and also to set a fastest stage time. Sunday's final day of the rally saw two classic Argentinean stages tackled, the 20km Mina Clavero and the dramatic 17km El Condor. Wilson took the first stage cautiously then pushed harder in the second to close to three seconds adrift of his team-mate heading to the two Super Specials in the Cordoba football stadium in front of a roaring crowd of over 40,000. Companc was the first Stobart car to tackle the 2.2km stage, going head to head with Subaru ace Chris Atkinson. As the Argentinean crowd cheered Companc's launch control did not work as it should and the Ford Focus WRC 05 stalled at on the line. With the margin so close, and the Super Special so short, Companc would not be able to recover the lost time and it handed the advantage to Wilson for his two short runs.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "It's mega, really, really good. It was a shame for Luis, it's so rare for the launch control to have a problem but the good thing for us was the stage got a lot faster as the more people who had gone over it made the grip better. It was a blooming good way to end the rally that's for sure. The grip was good, we were nice and neat and tidy and I didn't do anything silly as I knew I just had to get to the end. The crowd here is so keen on rallying that they were shouting and screaming, I've never seen anything like it. It felt so good that we'd got the point and then it came over the radio we'd done the fastest time. We're flying home straightaway so I'll be trying for an upgrade and I'll definitely be drinking some champagne."

Luis Perez Companc/ J-M Volta: "It was a very bad day! On the second stage today I went off the road and I hit very badly the car but it seemed that everything is okay but I lost a big difference with Matthew so I was only three seconds ahead going to the stadium. I thought I would make a bigger difference from Matthew on Saturday but he also was pushing hard so the difference between us was very small, but finally I got past him. In the podium I had a problem with the launch system, I couldn't get into gear and I lost too many seconds to Matthew. I lost eighth place but I'm very happy for the team, for the rally and for the people here, it's incredible how fanatical the fans are here, they love the rally."


FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
RALLY ARGENTINA
Media FIA Post-event Press Conference
30.04.2006

Present:
1st Sébastien Loeb – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
1st Daniel Elena – Kronos Total Citroën World Rally Team
2nd Petter Solberg – Subaru World Rally Team
2nd Phil Mills – Subaru World Rally Team
3rd Gigi Galli
3rd Giovanni Bernacchini
Representative of the winning Manufacturer Kronos Total Citroën WRT - Marc Van Dalen

Welcome to the final FIA press conference. Joining us are the top three crews: Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, Petter Solberg and Phil Mills, and Gigi Galli and Giovanni Bernacchini. Also joining us, as the representative of the winning Manufacturer, is Marc Van Dalen.

Q:
Before we talk to Seb, let’s congratulate you Daniel on your 24th career victory, equalling the record of Luis Moya. What does this mean to you? Will Luis be buying you dinner tonight?

DE:
I am happy with this result. I started as an amateur and to be at this level is a privilege – particularly since only 2002. It’s good to share the record with Luis, but at the same time it’s not coming very far – the record stays in the region of La Coruna! It’s me buying dinner for Luis tonight, but Luis will pay for me when we get 25!

Q:
A brilliant win Seb, which puts you in the lead of the Driver’s Championship by 21 points. Do you think it would be quite difficult for you to lose the Championship now?

SL:
No, the Championship is still long, we have 10 rallies to go. This season everything is working very, very well. The first good news from this rally is to see that we are still competitive with Marcus, after we know the Focus is going to be fast on gravel. It was good to see we could fight, that was the first good move. To win here in Argentina is very nice. All of the stages are really good; the water splashes, the jumps, a bit more water splashes; it’s really funny to drive here, it was also a nice fight.

Q:
Congratulations on second place, but it’s not the victory you wanted. What were the main reasons you were unable to match Sébastien’s pace? Do you think it will be difficult for Seb to lose the Championship now?

PS:
I think we had the pace, didn’t we? We had the pace when we had no problems, I won stages, he won stages. We went very well, actually. It’s the small details we have to sort out, so we can go through a whole rally without any problems. It’s going to be tough from now, trust me, I’m tough, things are improving – the car, the tyres. We’re going to have a lot of fun from now on. Seb has quite a good lead, but he can have problems also. We will see. I think it’s going to be even tougher from now as Marcus is getting more confidence in his car and I’m getting more into things.

Q:
You had a number of incidents, including punctures and the paddle shift breaking. Did you risk missing out on the podium at any point?

PM:
Of course. We came here with the intention of winning, but we did have a few things going wrong. Like you say, the paddle shift, punctures and so on – but we are very happy to be here in second place.

Q:
Congratulations on your first WRC podium, the first Italian to stand on a WRC podium since Piero Liatti in 1998. Here you are, on only the second event in the car and with no testing beforehand, in third place. You must feel very proud but did you think it was possible before the rally? How hard was it without testing?

GG:
I was focused on my goal not to make a mistake and to reach what I wanted since a long time. What can I say more? We decide we don’t push too much because I couldn’t understand the car. I didn’t make any test before, so all of the time I was being smooth. I could keep good pace and then we didn’t make any mistake: no spins, no stalls, which was great for me. The company was maybe a little bit fast, with some crash coming, but for me, for us, it’s something great. To be honest, yes, I couldn’t imagine the podium. I know there is a lot of great crews and I couldn’t imagine to have that. I know Argentina is a very tough rally – as we see – but that, I couldn’t imagine.

Q:
Giovanni, congratulations. You seemed to slow down a lot on the first stage this morning, did you have a problem? Any other problems throughout the event?

GB:
Actually no. This morning we started carefully, maybe too much. You know we start with a big gap between we and Manfred and we say that it is better to go carefully. Most of the stage was difficult and maybe we made not such a good stage, too much carefully, but we get the result.

Q:
Marc, congratulations, how does it feel to be in this position?

MVD: It’s a dream come true. We have worked all of the winter to find a sponsor. We never expected to be in this position in the Championship. Those guys are fantastic. For Daniel to win 24 rallies is really fantastic. I’m sure it’s not finished yet…

Q:
Daniel has won 24 rallies here, when will the 25th come?

MVD:
I don’t know, I hope quickly!

Q:
We move on now to Sardinia, another event you won last year. Will there be any new developments for Italy? How high is your confidence?

SL:
I am confident. Everything works well. Sardinia is not completely different from the settings that we have here, it will be another good fight with Marcus and Petter and Gigi, as he will drive there. But for me the feeling with the car is really good – I’m looking forward to this rally.

Q:
What do you think of the change from July to April this year in Argentina? Did it make things better or not?

DE:
There were a lot of changes in the temperatures. Day one was very difficult on the car and it was very hot. After it was the same. It’s more difficult being first on the road in July.

Q:
Italy is an event that you have won in the past, in 2004. How much more work needs to be done before you can win again? Is this beginning to affect your confidence and motivation?

PS:
The guys are working flat-out to sort out these small problems. We have everything under control. We have done a good step for this rally. In the next one and a half weeks we have more work and Pirelli is on a big attack to win the next few rallies. It will come from good team work and everybody staying together as we try to win the next rally.

Q:
Are you looking forward to Italy Phil? Do you think you can turn the tide there?

PM:
Like Petter said, everybody is working night and day to get the job right. We won there two years ago and we were very competitive last year. We will be going very hard.

Q:
Gigi, Italy will be your home event. Will you be challenging for another podium there – or even something better than that? How about after Italy, what are your plans for the rest of the season? Does this help?

GG:
Of course yes, we start with that goal. It’s quite difficult to say, of course, it would be the best of us. Hopefully I can keep good experience for the testing in Argentina and to drive more quickly from the first stage. I don’t know, I hope the result can help us go for some more events and I would like to be confident, but I don’t know. There are a lot of things which have to be gelled together.

Q:
Giovanni, what are your thoughts on this year’s Rally Argentina and what did you think of the quality of the stages and the organisation?

GB:
This is the third time I have done this rally. It’s very good, very difficult. This morning, as we saw, the stages are very twisty. The organisation worked in a good way, we didn’t see any problems. It was very good for the organisation. The people are amazing here, fantastic to see in every stage and on the road sections. The people were everywhere, it was very funny and very good.

GG:
I would like to say, only a small advice. When I was on the podium, nobody told me what I had to do. I couldn’t know what I was doing, one person say if you want, you can do donuts. I do that, and for me it was a pleasure. I didn’t know, it was a little bit… what can I say?

Q:
Finally, back to the super special, what do you think of this format? Is it exciting to have a big super special?

SL:
As long as the super stage is not changing the classification of the rally, like it was an idea one time, it’s not bad. There were a lot of people and a good atmosphere. Yes, it’s not a problem, but for me, it’s not better than the real thing.

MVD
I agree. It’s important what Seb said. We need to make a show, but not affect the overall result. Those guys are fighting so hard for three days and there’s no reason to change this for fun. It’s more important for the cars to slide, to put on a big show for the fans.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:

Mario–Alberto Bauer (Motorsport Aktuell, Switzerland)

Q:
I would like to hear from Giovanni, what do you say to the driver between pace notes on a stage when you lose 26 seconds?

GB:
It’s not easy. This morning we try to use stage by stage and splits. If I have also to push him between the notes, usually I read it the same way. I can see happily if he’s going down or a little bit help him. We try to go on the same way before the stage.

FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP and FIA PRODUCTION CAR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st Guy Wilks (JWRC)
1st Phil Pugh
1st Nasser Al-Attiyah (PWRC)
1st Chris Patterson

Now for the final press conference of the FIA JWRC and PWRC, we have the winning crew of Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh for Juniors and Nasser Al-Attiyah and Chris Patterson from the Production Car World Rally Championship.

Q:
Guy, you said you needed 10 points from here and you took them – how did you do it?

GW:
Well, we started on Thursday and finished on Sunday and did a bit of rallying in between! No, it wasn’t as easy as that. This was the hardest rally I’ve ever done. In somewhere like Cyprus, it’s not ideal for the 1600cc car, this rally wasn’t ideal, either. The car stood up well, though, and Phil did a great job too.

Q:
Phil, how does this put your Championship situation now? Feeling confident?

PP:
No, it’s wide-open this year. There’s us on 10 points and then P-G (Andersson) and Patrik Sandell together on 16 each. The thing is that we don’t all get together until later in the season, so it’s hard to know for the Championship.

Q:
Guy, this was the first time Argentina was in the JWRC. Do you think it worked as a round of the Championship?

GW:
It was very challenging. We have always had rough rallies in the JWRC and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It brings a lot of character out of the driver, there is definitely a place for this rally – although it has been very tough-going. We are normally on the same pace as the Group N cars, but on this event there have been a lot of uphill sections where we couldn’t get the traction. You have to keep the car moving.

Q:
Phil, what did you think of the rally organisation?

PP:
The roads books and everything like that was very good. I have to say, though, that I am amazed at how the police manage to control so many spectators. It’s incredible, hard to believe in some places. It’s great to see. I think a few other rallies could learn a lot from this event.

Q:
Congratulations, Nasser. You’ve taken 10 points for the Championship. You must be very pleased.

NA-A:
Yes, actually. We had a great rally in Argentina. Ten points are very important for the Championship. I am so happy with this and hope we can keep the same pace on our next event.

Q:
Chris, did you have a plan for this rally?

CP:
We did and we stuck to that plan and stayed out of trouble; the car was in the middle of the road. This is a really tough rally, we learned that two years ago. We learned respect for this event when we won it last year and now are pleased to do that again.

Q:
There seem to have been a lot of punctures, Nasser. How did you fare?

NA-A:
It was very difficult for the tyres. We choose our tyres from our side, we bring them from the Middle East. The rallies in the Middle East are very rough and I have good experience from there, and we did not have any trouble – it’s fantastic for us; we had no flat tyres.

Q:
This can be a tough rally on the car. How did your car run, Chris?

CP:
The car ran very well. We had to go quite hard in the first four stages to get the position, but the car never gave us any problems or concern. The Subaru shone here, it was one-two on the event, which is fantastic. Our car stood up to everything.