Neuville survived and won Rally Argentina to extend WRC lead
Thierry Neuville climbed on the top podium spot at Rally Argentina, the fifth round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship, extending his championship lead ahead of defending champion Sebastien Ogier. It’s the second win for Neuville and his navigator Nicolas Gilsoul this year and eleventh WRC victory in a career for Belgian rally ace.
Neuville experienced fewer problems than others in a very tough rally at Argentinean rain-soaked gravel roads, bringing his #11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC to the finish line 48.4 seconds ahead of his teammate Andreas Mikkelsen in the #89 Hyundai. It’s the first podium of the season for Mikkelsen.
Kris Meeke (Toyota) stayed out of the podium again, suffering a punctured tyre on the very last stage and losing the third place by 1.4 seconds to Sebastien Ogier. The reigning champion had a great run in the #1 Citroen C3 WRC on the Power Stage, setting the fastest time and taking additional five points. Neuville also earned some points at Power Stage, setting the third-fastest time.
Other points scorers in the overall standings are Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota, 5th), Dani Sordo (Hyundai, 6th), Teemu Suninen (Ford, 7th), Ott Tanak (Toyota, 8th), Mads Ostberg (Citroen C3 R5, 9th) and Pedro Heller (Ford Fiesta R5, 10th).
Ten World Rally Cars participated in the event, eight reached the finish. The first victim among World Rally Car drivers was Esapekka Lappi (Citroen), who crashed hard at Special Stage 8 on Friday afternoon. Elfyn Evans crashed out the day later at SS10 and he didn’t restart.
Ott Tanak (Toyota) was in the second place, about twenty seconds behind Neuville, when he stopped with mechanical issue at SS14 on Saturday afternoon. He restarted on Sunday and eventually finished in the eighth place overall.
After five events, Thierry Neuville leads the championship with 110 points, ten more than Sebastien Ogier. Ott Tanak is still third with 82 points on his account.