Rally Argentina 2007 Preview.
Four Weeks have passed since Rally Portugal which was the last round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Rally Portugal was a new addition to the WRC Calendar and proved to be tough on a lot of the WRC drivers, Especially the Ford team, when six of the cars including the two top drivers Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen, received five minute penalties after a technical issue with the rear side windows of the 2006 Ford Focus RS WRC.

As a consequence, Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb took a step forward in the driver’s title leading by one point over Marcus Gronholm. The Frenchman who has now become the master of the Argentine roads, heads to this weekend’s Rally Argentina hoping to secure a third consecutive victory.

Sebastien Loeb
Source of Picture.

Soft and sandy road conditions characterise this popular rally, with the route frequently becoming rutted during the second runs of the stage in the afternoons. Sunday’s stages on the other hand are narrow and rocky with no margin for error. More than 25 river crossings are there for the drivers to take, proving to be somewhat of a gamble as the cooling system at the front of the engine runs the chance of becoming damaged if the drivers enter the was too fast.

Gronholm won this event once back in 2003 in his Peugeot 206, and this year he will be looking to prevent Loeb from winning again. After a successful test in Sardinia with the 2007 Ford Focus, the Finn will being putting his lessons into practice and try to gain ground on Loeb as the latter will be opening the road for the rest of the field on the first day, giving the BP-Ford a small advantage.

Mikko Hirvonen, usually known as the "no man’s land" driver, is third in the drivers’ standings and is eager to have another shot at playing with the big boys. The young Finn with his impetuous personality wants another victory after his last in Norway, and this rally will be one of his goals.

Mikko Hirvonen
Source of Picture.

Citroen’s Dani Sordo, currently fourth in the drivers’ championship, doesn’t have much experience on the roads of Argentina, but after a solid result in 2006 when he finished fifth on only his first try at the event, the Spaniard will try to gain more knowledge and go one better in 2007.

Subaru World Rally Team likes the stages of Argentina after scoring points here a total of six times in the last seven years, the best result of second overall in 2002 and 2006. Petter Solberg marks his 100th start with the team in Argentina whilst his team mate Chris Atkinson will be competing for the first time with new co-driver Stephane Prevot, after long Ėtime partner Glenn MacNeall left the team following Rally Portugal. Both drivers will attack right from the start with hopes to bring the best of the new 2007 Impreza and try to stay ahead of Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team in the manufacturers’ standings. Solberg gained valuable points when he was promoted to second overall after Gronholm and Hirvonen were penalized in Portugal, and now he lies fifth in the drivers’ standings.

The Stobart drivers are back to add even more valuable experience to their WRC careers. The number of appearances made by the three in Argentina can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Henning Solberg finished sixth here last year, while Latvala will be competing for the very first time. Young Matthew Wilson will be looking to improve his performance here from 2006, when he scored the first stage victory and drivers’ point of his WRC career.

Matthew Wilson
Source of Picture.

Manfred Stohl will be the only driver running for the OMV Kronos Citroen Would Rally Team at rally Argentina. The Austrian is one of the most experienced drivers at this event with 10 starts to his credit. He and co-driver IIka Minor enjoy Argentina and are set to put the name of the team in the rankings.

Munchi’s Ford World Rally Team will be the team to watch this weekend with plenty of knowledge of the Argentine roads in the hands of drivers Luis Perex Companc and Juan Pablo Raies Munchi’s returns to competition after withdrawing from Rally Portugal when Pablo Perex Companc’s brother Luis, and Jorge (co-driver for Raies), had a serious accident in the Indy Light Series a few days before the start of the Portuguese event. Fortunately, Pablo is making a full recovery and now the team can rejoin the WRC field in nowhere better than their own country.

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