Sometimes we like to say that every crew that makes it to the end of the event is a winner – sounds very olympic, but this is not how things work in World Rally Championship, or motor sports in general. In Argentina the fastest overall was Jari-Matti Latvala, he was brave and quick but also clever when it mattered the most – he almost outogiered Sebastien Ogier himself. The battle between the two drivers was quite epic until it became obvious that Jari-Matti is on a special mission. It was very easy to make a mistake in Argentina, and punctures as well as lost or damaged bumpers were a common sight. Jari-Matti played his cards well and this time he wasn’t going to be bothered by fog, rain, mud, splashes, ruts or that other guy chasing him, even if that other guy is Seb Ogier. It was a stunning drive by Jari-Matti and he is keeping out championship very much alive. I really like the fact that Volkswagen never even hinted at anything remotely resembling team orders – this was the big boys fighting it out, fair and square.
Yes, the overall victory can only be given to one guy, but still there are several small winners in Argentina this afternoon. Ogier won the power stage and the bonus points, adding them to the second place. Mature and reasonable drive by the Frenchman – it was important to survive Argentina especially in the latter stages. Kris Meeke grabbed third place, which is certainly a good enough reason for a celebration. After numerous disappointments it was important for Kris to make it to the end in one piece, but he did even more than that, clinching third place and a nice pile of points in the process. Another worthy winner is Robert Kubica – he also kept his promise and avoided making another mistake. I’m sure some stages frustrated the hell out of him, because he probably could feel the seconds slipping away as he adopted more careful approach, but in the end he made it, both car and crew intact. This was a big lesson on how to harness the speed and skill.
Finally, Mikko Hirvonen’s mechanics also deserve a big applause for patching the car back together after the crash on the first day. Mikko was able to climb back and score some points, winning some stages (3 out of 4 today) and grabbing two bonus points on the power stage. We even got to enjoy the fight between Mads Ostberg and Mikko until the unfortunate kick from Mads’ steering wheel injured his finger. Ostberg had to retire after pain became too great, but before he did, he made a promise to continue the “viking battle” with Mikko on Sardinia.