Michelin and Citroën’s ‘pasodoble’ in Argentina

The 35th Rally Argentina was won by Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle and their Citroën DS3 WRC after a surefooted performance from start to finish. It is the British driver’s maiden victory at world level. Second in Villa Carlos Paz were team-mates Mads Ostberg and Jonas Andersson who made it a resounding one-two success for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. The French team has traditionally performed well on the South American round, with only last year’s win escaping it since 2005 on those editions to count towards the WRC.
WRC Argentine 2015

Before today, the last world class win for a British driver was the 2002 Safari Rally when Colin McRae/Nicky Grist came first in their Ford Focus RS WRC.

This week’s Rally Argentina produced a happy ending, too, for Britons Elfyn Evans and his co-driver Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, M-Sport WRT) who scored their first podium result at world championship level.

Volkswagen Motorsport’s three crews all suffered technical problems but Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia left South America with the three Power Stage bonus points.

The rally took place in more demanding conditions than those normally encountered in Argentina, the result of the torrential rain that fell over the region shortly before the start. On top of that, the weather was far hotter than in previous years given that the round appeared a month earlier on the FIA calendar this time round.

“The MICHELIN LTX Force tires stood up very well to the challenge they faced here,” underlines Jacques Morelli, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s World Rally Championship programme. “Friday’s stages were littered with stones and sharp rocks which had been unearthed by the recent rain. That put the durability of our tires to a tough test, especially on the two attempts at the long Agua de Oro/Ascochiga test (51.99km).”

For the first time in recent Rally Argentina history, competitors made use of hard-compound rubber. “All the WRC crews ran at least two hard-compound MICHELIN LTX Force H4s for Friday’s tough leg,” notes Jacques Morelli.

Saturday’s action featured a variety of surface types, from the abrasive ground of ‘Capilla del Monte/San Marcos’ (SS7/9, 23.1km) - where Sébastien Ogier and Julien chose the hard MICHELIN LTX Force H4 for the front wheels of their VW Polo R WRC - to the sandier ‘San Marcos/Characato’ (42.5km) for which competitors fitted the soft compound.

The rally concluded on Sunday morning when crews opted for soft Michelin tires for ‘El Condor/Copina’ in the majestic mountains southwest of Villa Carlos Paz (SS11 and SS12/Power Stage).

The next round of the 2015 FIA WRC will be the Vodafone Rally de Portugal which will take place in the north of the country on May 21-24.