Argentina : Citroën Sport - Leg 1
Dani Sordo/Marc Martí and Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena returned to today's closing service park in Villa Carlos Paz with their Citroën C4 WRCs sitting in 2nd and 3rd places respectively after completing just the Buenos Aires and Córdoba super-specials
since Thursday evening's start.
The organisers of the Argentine round had planned to kick off their event with a specially laid-out spectator stage at the celebrated River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, a decision which called for considerable logistical work to fly all the crews from Cordoba to the capital and back, with the rally cars following in a convoy of trucks.
The outward journey passed off without a hitch, but the return trip was fraught by a cascade of problems which prevented the planes from taking off on time from Buenos Aires yesterday evening. The Citroën crews finally made it back to their hotel rooms at around 3am Friday morning.
This delay initially led to the decision to cancel today's opening loop of five stages (SS2-SS6) which had promised to be the most interesting part of Leg 1's menu.
However, appalling weather, including thick fog in Córdoba, then resulted in further delays to the flight on which all the rally officials and a certain number of Production category runners had been booked for the return from Buenos Aires.
Their plane finally managed to take off from the capital at 1pm today which consequently led to the cancellation of the afternoon's stages too. Only the Cordoba super-special, which was scheduled to conclude the day's action, finally survived all these cuts.
The two Citroën C4 WRCs rolled into tonight's service park in Villa Carlos Paz at the southern tip of Lake San Roque after just 4.80km of competitive action completed since Thursday evening.
"When I first heard about what the organisers were planning for the 2007 event, I wasn't particularly enthralled at the idea," says Sebastien Loeb
"The way things turned out shows there was good reason to be concerned. All these cancelled stages are such a shame for all the spectators who were waiting to watch us through the stages. Argentina is a country where rallying is immensely popular and depriving all the fans of today's action is such a sad waste."
Younger, and consequently more impatient, Dani Sordo found yesterday evening's delays at the airport and today's cancellations extremely drawn out.
"I tried to busy myself as best I could. I did a little sport and had a rest, but what I really wanted to do was drive my C4 WRC over the excellent Argentine stages!" he said.
"For all the people who turned out to watch, this is a regrettable situation. I hope everything runs smoothly tomorrow and on Sunday so that we can all get to enjoy ourselves on proper stages."
Although not wanting to be too harsh in his comments, Guy Fréquelin echoed the thoughts of his drivers: "On paper, the idea of taking the rally to a new public in Buenos Aires was a sound one. In the end, however, it all went wrong."
"It's such a huge shame for all those who, like every year, turned out in numbers to watch the stages. I hope this won't have any repercussions for the event which is one the great World Rally Championship fixtures. We always receive such a warm welcome here and it would be a pity to deprive ourselves of the trip out to Argentina."
Fréquelin concluded: "Let's put this unhappy incident behind us now and let's get on with the real sport..."
Press Release Citroën Sport