Elfyn Evans’ lead slashed to just 11.5sec

Elfyn Evans’ lead slashed to just 11.5sec

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M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt continue to lead Rally Argentina but their lead was slashed to just 11.5 seconds.

Saturday started well for the Brits with fastest time through the opening stage (SS11). A couple of punctures through the morning’s two remaining speed tests may have cost the pairing a handful of seconds, but their advantage remained intact at 44.1 seconds come the midday service break. As the crews embarked on the afternoon stages however, the Welshman’s lead started to shrink.

Suffering a spin and struggling with the rear of his DMACK-shod Ford Fiesta WRC, Evans lost time but maintained his advantage.

“We’ve not had the best of days with a few issues here and there. Some small mistake from myself and a few little niggles with the car have dented our advantage quite a lot, but it’s still an advantage and it’s all to play for tomorrow”, Elfyn Evans said.

Elfyn Evans: “We’re here to do a job so we’ll focus on that and do the best we possibly can”

“There’s still a hard 50 kilometres to go and anything can happen, but we’ll be giving it our all. After all the hard work over the past two days, we didn’t come here to finish second. If Thierry wants this victory, we’re going to make him fight for it!”

Thierry Neuville and Nicoals Gilsoul started the day in third place overall with a one-minute deficit, but moved up to second in the morning loop. They continued to close the gap to the leader as the day progressed.

Neuville commented: “We couldn’t have asked for more from our Saturday. The day didn’t start too well after I got caught out on the opening stage, and picked up a puncture. Things improved after that and we were able to catch Mads (Ostberg, who later hit a stone and broke his car’s suspension) to extend our grasp on second place. The balance of the car was good and for the most part I felt comfortable. We gave a bit of a push in the final stages to try and reduce the gap to Elfyn, which we were able to do. The aim is always to win but it’s going to be a tough fight, not only for the victory but also to defend our current position from those chasing behind us. We will see what happens!”

Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja have a clear strategy for Rally Argentina

Locked in an intense five-way battle for the final podium positions, the Estonians tapped into their speed reserves and made quick work of climbing the time sheets. A lack of confidence through the morning loop resulted in a couple of spins, but that didn’t stop them securing fourth place. A debrief with the engineers delivered a more favourable set-up for the afternoon, and Tänak was quick out of the box. Posting the fastest time through the second pass of “Tanti – Villa Bustos” (SS13), the duo were up to third and focused on second-placed man Neuville.

“It was always the plan to play it quite safe through the first day. Maybe we were a bit too cautious in places, but Saturday’s stages were a lot easier on the car and we could enjoy the driving a lot more”, Ott Tänak said.

“I think it was a good drive from us. We made some quite big changes to the car during service and things got even better in the afternoon. Sunday will be a really tough day with two very tricky stages. In these stages, 20 seconds is nothing so we need to keep going and keep concentrated. Anything is possible so we’ll keep focused and keep pushing.”

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