NASSER AL-ATTIYAH AND THIERRY NEUVILLE CONTINUE TO IMPROVE
Thierry Neuville and Nasser Al-Attiyah both finished a long and difficult Rally Argentina in the points. Thierry Neuville finished fifth overall whereas Nasser Al-Attiyah ended the rally in ninth position after producing a great performance in the Power Stage. With their performance level improving with every passing rally, both men nowhave raised hopes for the rest of the season and will be aiming for podium finishes.
An unmissable round of the WRC, Rally Argentina combines very enthusiastic crowds with stages that provide thedrivers with a serious test of their abilities. The first thing that strikes you when you arrive in Villa Carlos Paz is just how incredibly popular Nasser Al-Attiyah, winner of the 2011 Dakar Rally, is here.
After completing the Super Special stage on Thursday evening, the serious business got underway on Friday, with the rally's longest day. The Qatari lost time straight away after a making a mistake, but afterwards he managed to adopt a solid pace, enabling him to move into the top 5. “My neck was really sore and I lost concentration at the start of the event,” summed up Nasser Al-Attiyah. “We then decided to run a sensible race, which paid off as we were in the top 5, until a stone halted our progress on Saturday morning.”
On SS9, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini hit a rock, severely damaging one of the wheels. “We just about managed to make our way to the end of the stage. We tried to mend the wheel, but the repair job didn’t last long. Thanks to the great work of the team, we were able to rejoin under Rally2 rules on Sunday. We are competitors and it was worth it in terms of points.” The tenacity of the Qatar World Rally Team driver helped him to secure ninth place overall. Nasser then produced a fine performance with the third fastest time in the Power Stage, earning him an extra point. “It’s good to end the rally like that. I still have a lot to learn about the Citroën DS3 WRC, but I feel that we’re getting there gradually. I’m looking forward to Greece, a rally that suits me perfectly. I like races where you need toshow endurance.”
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul started the rally aiming to make it to the finish without having to resort to theRally2 rules. The Belgian crew made a very good start to the event, but their progress was halted on SS5. “I had toomuch speed coming into a bend. It was a mistake, it's undoubtedly part and parcel of the learning process, but I’mdisappointed for the team. I want to stay positive and focus on the fact we were running at the pace of the works drivers before we went off.”
After rejoining under Rally2 regulations in Saturday morning, the Citroën Junior World Rally Team crew producedsome solid performances with the second fastest time on SS12 and the best time on the Super Special stage. OnSunday, three top 3 times enabled the no.8 DS3 WRC to continue to climb back up the overall standings. ThierryNeuville and Nicolas Gilsoul made it to the finish in 5th place, their best result in the WRC. “I’m pleased with where I finished, despite my mistake on day one. This is our best result in the WRC. In the end, it’s probably true that our mishap only cost us one place. I know that I have the speed, I just need to work on being consistent. In Greece, I really must complete the rally without making any mistakes. That will be my one and only goal.”
OVERALL STANDINGS1 Loeb / Elena Citroën DS3 WRC 5:34:38.82 Hirvonen / Lehtinen Citroën DS3 WRC +15.23 Østberg / Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:10.44 Prokop / Hrûza Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9:45.35 Neuville / Gilsoul Citroën DS3 WRC +11:17.66 Solberg / Patterson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12:02.27 Ogier / Ingrassia Skoda Fabia S2000 +12:25.39 Al-Attiyah / Bernacchini Citroën DS3 WRC +28:22.610 Tänak / Sikk Ford Fiesta RS WRC +37:19.5
FASTEST TIMESDay 1 – SS1: Solberg – SS2: Loeb – SS3: Solberg – SS4 and SS5: Loeb – SS6: Hirvonen.Day 2 – SS7: Loeb – SS8 and SS9: Hirvonen – SS10 to SS12: Solberg – SS13: Neuville.Day 3 – SS14 to SS19: Solberg.
BEST PERFORMERSSolberg, 9 fastest times – Loeb, 4 – Hirvonen, 3 – Neuville, 1.
LEADERSSS1 to SS3: Solberg – SS4: Hirvonen – SS5 to SS19: Loeb.
FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGSThe results provided above are unofficial and may be subject to modification after scrutineering.