Argentina: Subaru - Leg 1
The Subaru World Rally Team ended the opening leg of Rally Argentina with Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson firmly in the points-scoring positions.
It was a disrupted day - one of the three aeroplanes scheduled to bring rally personnel back
to Cordoba after Thursday's event was delayed in Buenos Aires and Stewards had no option but to cancel seven of the day's eight tests to give personnel more time to return to Villa Carlos Paz, where the rally is based.
With the cancellation of SS2 through to SS8, the opening leg of the rally comprised two superspecial stages, one in River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires and the other in Cordoba Stadium.
Leg one of Rally Argentina got underway on Thursday night with a 2.4km Superspecial constructed inside Buenos Aires' River Plate football stadium, 700km from the rally's host city of Cordoba.
The logistical challenge to transplant the rally to the capital for the night involved nine coaches, eighty cars, 14 vehicle transporters, 500 people and three aeroplanes.
Under the stadium floodlights and in front of an estimated 25,000 spectators, crews tackled the twisty, smooth gravel stage in pairs. Both Subaru drivers completed the test cleanly, with Chris Atkinson winning his heat against Henning Solberg, and Petter Solberg setting the same time as reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb
The only stage to be run on Friday was the evening Superspecial at the Cordoba football stadium. The test featured a near identical layout to the Buenos Aires stage, but included a straight that was 100 metres longer.
Once again the stands were packed with thousands of spectators and crews tackled the gravel circuit in a carnival atmosphere.
Light rain fell during the competition, which made the surface especially slippery, but there were no upsets for the lead competitors.
There was little to separate the drivers over such a short distance but Atkinson was the quickest Subaru driver, and set the fourth-fastest time, while Solberg was just 0.3s back with the sixth-fastest time.
The second leg includes five stages to the north of Villa Carlos Paz and then another four tests about 60km to the south, in Calamuchita. The distance includes 159.16 competitive kilometres.
Richard Taylor, Managing Director
It's been a strange opening leg, in that we've completed less then five kilometres of competitive rallying. We sympathise with the event organisers, because the disruption to the event has been caused by circumstances out of their control. It is particularly sad for the huge number of fans who went out onto the stages to cheer on the drivers. However, it seems that the plan to hold the Superspecial in Buenos Aires on Thursday evening was too ambitious. Still, we're looking forward to tomorrow's stages. Petter and Chris are keen to tackle the gravel stages and we're confident they can both challenge strongly throughout the rest of the rally.
Subaru World Rally team