Dramatic Rally Portugal was in good part shaped by changing weather and tricky conditions, and judging from the information coming from South America, this week’s Rally Argentina can hope for more of the same. High altitudes, very demanding terrain, (very) long stages and promise of rain and even snow… sounds like proper drama.
As in Portugal, weather is already a main topic in Argentina, although crews are currently busy with recce sessions. Some heavy rain already greeted WRC upon it’s arrival and now there is talk about possible snow in higher altitudes. Recipe for a thrilling rally? So it seems!
Action begins in Thursday with the usual qualifying stage, set on 4.59 kilometer stretch of road and quite possibly one of the most important stages of the rally, even though it does not count towards the final score. Later in the evening same day crews will tackle 6.04 kilometer super special stage set in La Paz.
Rally proper begins on Friday with five stage, two of which are shaped to put first endurance pressure on crews with 51.88 kilometers each. Day 1 totals at 197.96 kilometers of special stages. On Saturday crews will cover 166.54 kilometers of special stages, with two tests being almost 40 kilometers long. Final endurance test comes on Sunday with the longest stage of the championship, also conveniently used as first test of the final day. It’s 65.74 kilometers long and is expected to provide interesting challenge to the modern generation WRC crews, not used to stages that long.
That is if more than a handful of crews will make it through day 1 and 2.
Jari-Matti Latvala is out of this rally due to injury, so he will not be able to retire on day one, but Petter Solberg should be able to – he even promised to approach Argentina with extra clever tactics – which is roughly the same he said about Portugal. Dani Sordo joins Solberg in Ford, hoping he can bring some points and more importantly raise his own price on drivers market.
In Citroën, well… it’s Citroën. Sebastien Loeb issued a “warning”, saying he aims to repair damage from Portugal by scoring a good result in Argentina, while Mikko Hirvonen is looking for repeat of Portugal, where he used combination of tactical mastery and the fact that everyone else retired to claim victory. And then lose it due to irregularities on car. Those pesky details!
Undoubtedly, the usual bunch of Ford and Citroën privateers will aim to mess it up for the boys in manufacturer teams, and we will pay close attention to what Mads Ostberg, Thierry Neuville and Evgeny Novikov are doing.
I have no idea if any of the stages will feature live TV coverage, but I am sure we will have at least one (world) rally radio present to relay the action to WRC’s audience around the world.