Loeb in lead in Argentina
DASH AND SPLASH: French driver Sebastien Loeb blasts through a river in his Citroen DS3 during the Stage 3 the WRC Argentina 2012 near Agua de Oro, Cordoba. He won the day. Image: AFP
CORDOBA, Argentina - Eight-times World champion Sebastien Loeb moved into the lead of the Rally of Argentina - an event he has won for the last six years - on Friday after to a blistering charge on the fifth stage.
The Frenchman was 13.4sec faster than Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen on the penultimate run to take an overall lead of 0.1sec with Ford driver Dani Sordo in third, 13.1sec down on Loeb.
"We changed the set-up a little and I was much more confident in the afternoon," Loeb explained. "I pushed really hard and there were no mistakes. It is very close with Mikko and there is a long way to go."
Hirvonen struggled on the uneven road surface; Sordo had a problem with his left rear wheel.
Norway's 2003 World champion Petter Solberg (Ford Fiesta) was leading after three of the day's six stages but his hopes were shattered when he failed to start starge five after a steering arm on his Fiesta broke when he was 5.8km from the end of stage four.
Rally of Argentina first leg classification
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 2hr20min30.6
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +00min0.1
3 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Ford 00min33.1
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford 01min18.4
5 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Citroen 05min16.9
6 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford 06min24.2
7 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Skoda 06min36.0
8 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda 06min58.8
9 Armindo Araujo (Portugal) Mini 08min14.5
10 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen 10min13.2