April 30, 2017 – Thierry Neuville pipped Elfyn Evans to win YPF Rally Argentina.
Belgian Neuville edged out longtime leader Evans by just 0.7sec in a pulsating final speed test on Sunday when the Welshman clipped a bridge, ending his dreams of a maiden victory. Only two rounds have been decided by a smaller margin in the WRC’s 45-year history.
The Hyundai i20 Coupe driver trailed Evans by 11.5sec heading into the last leg of the four-day dirt road encounter. Brake problems for Evans and a fierce Neuville attack sent the pair into the final 16.32km test at the famous El Condor separated by just 0.6sec.
Both drivers threw caution to the wind on the rough mountain tracks, and early split times showed Evans more than three seconds ahead. But as his grip lessened near the finish, the Welshman’s Ford Fiesta swiped a bridge, handing Neuville a second consecutive win.
Rock-strewn roads took a heavy toll and merely surviving Friday’s opening leg became the aim of many.
Ott Tänak’s patient strategy paid off as he steered clear of trouble and thrived on the smoother weekend roads to finish third in another Fiesta, a further 29.2sec back.
Reigning champion Sébastien Ogier made it three M-Sport World Rally Team cars in the top four, and the Frenchman increased his championship lead to 16 points after five of 13 rounds. He was almost a minute adrift of Tänak.
Jari-Matti Latvala was Evans’ closest challenger early on, but the Finn slipped back to finish fifth in his Toyota Yaris. Broken power steering completed a torrid weekend for Hayden Paddon, who claimed his maiden win in Argentina 12 months ago. He was sixth.
YPF Rally Argentina (Villa Carlos Paz), April 27-30 2017:
1. T Neuville / N Gilsou BEL Hyundai i20 3hr 38min 10.6sec
2. E Evans / D Barritt GBR Ford Fiesta +0.7sec
3. O Tänak / M Jarveöja EST Ford Fiesta +29.9sec
4. S Ogier / J Ingrassia FRA Ford Fiesta +1min 24.7sec
5. J-M Latvala / M Anttila FIN Toyota Yaris +1min 48.1sec
6. H Paddon / J Kennard NZL Hyundai i20 +7min 42.7sec
FIA World Rally Championship (round 5 of 13):
1. S Ogier 102pts
2. J-M Latvala 86pts
3. T Neuville 84pts