Rally Argentina 2007.
The final leg of this year’s Rally Argentina was only the second of competition. This was due to Friday’s leg of action being cancelled, the required distance was not met to classify the 2007 Argentina as a full event, and thus full points would not be awarded to the competitive field. The organisers then decided to add another stage to leg three, this was a second run of a previous stage to fully ensure that full points were to be awarded.

The rally leader coming into the final leg, Sebastien Loeb, did not disappoint his fans, though he did ease his pace during the course of the day. Winning two out of the days five stages, Loeb claimed his third consecutive victory, fourth of the season. The two completed days of action were dominated by the Frenchman, with the exception of the two super special stages on Thursday and Friday. This increased Loeb’s championship lead which is now three points ahead of Marcus Gronholm six events into the year.

Gronholm finished second overall finisher this weekend. The Finn was unable to match the incredible pace that was set by Loeb early in the rally and was forced to consolidate his position during the third leg. Driving for victory here was the goal for the former World Champion as the chase for the drivers’ title begins to take shape.

Sebastien LoebSource of Picture.

Mikko Hirvonen ensured that the BP-Ford would remain at the top of the manufacturers’ title race with his third overall finisher here. The Finn found his fourth podium position of this year, and completed the legs without any major incidents or dramas. After Subaru’s Petter Solberg was forced to retire late in leg two, Hirvonen was able to move into third position which he held without pressure from Jari-Matti Latvala, until the rally’s conclusion.

Latvala finished the event fourth overall, his best result so far this season. The Finn drove a solid, but consistent pace and eventually found himself in a position to drive without defending his position.

In fifth position was Latvala’s team-mate Henning Solberg. The Norwegian suffered a slow start to the rally during the second leg, but throughout the afternoon and into today’s action, Solberg was able to increase his pace and move to fifth overall. The battle for fifth took center stage during the third leg as Chris Atkinson and Dani Sordo both fought for the position. In the end, it was Solberg who came away with the position, ensuring team boss Malcolm Wilson four Fords in the top five positions.

Henning SolbergSource of Picture.

Dani Sordo was the most impressive driver during the third leg. After a second leg hydraulic problem that saw him fall to eighth on the leader board late in day two, Sordo pushed through the third day, taking two fastest stage times and moving up two positions on the leader board. At the end of the proper rally stages, the Spaniard closed to within less than six seconds from Henning, but the time was too much for him to overcome. It was a very special weekend for Sordo’s co-driver, Marc Marti, who was celebrating his 100th WRC rally. A large majority of those were in the passenger’s seat of the legendary Carlos Sainz, mentor to his current driver.

Subaru’s Chris Atkinson was the most surprising. The Australian was not happy with his Impreza WRC during the third leg, and his times reflected his displeasure. Atkinson began the day fifth overall, but throughout the leg dropped time to Solberg and eventually Sordo. This weekend was the first time that he had been paired with co-driver Stephane Prevot, and by all indications, the duo was still adjusting to one another’s individual styles.

Chris AtkinsonSource of Picture.

Finally, Manfred Stohl rounded out the top eight drivers contesting this weekend’s Rally Argentina. Stohl, who was not pleased with the setup of the Citroen Xsara, drove a quiet rally. His times did not reflect his Argentinean experience (Stohl has contested this event 10 times). Still, after the sluggish pace, to leave South America with a point-finish will be welcome for the Austrian.

Matthew Wilson and Luis Companc both returned to contest in Argentina’s third leg after retiring from yesterday’s action on the first proper rally test run. Wilson and Companc both posted top-eight stage times, but neither driver was interested in achieving anything more this weekend than gaining experience.

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