At the end of the third day of Rally Argentina, ŠKODA still dominated the WRC2 category. Factory crews Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson, (SWE/SWE) and Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) continued their relentless battle for victory.
The fight for the lead in the WRC 2 category intensified on Day Three. Hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic fans witnessed the fierce contest between ŠKODA Motorsport factory crews Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (SWE/SWE) and Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN).
On Saturday, the crews had to tackle roughly 150 kilometres of tough special stages over the Argentinian gravel roads. Kalle Rovanperä, a 17-year-old Finnish ŠKODA youngster, had the perfect start into the day. The fog hovering over the mountain roads was no obstacle to him as he won the first two stages of the leg, closing the gap between him and his teammate, reigning WRC 2 Champion Tidemand, to 5.4 seconds. “For sure it wasn’t easy in the fog, but on the other hand, it was not that bad. I was careful and it was okay for us,” was Rovanperä’s modest comment. Pontus Tidemand was already looking forward to the next stage: “It’s going to be tough.”
The next stage covers more than 40 kilometres and runs between Cuchilla Nevada and Rio Pintos. Rovanperä dominated in his ŠKODA FABIA R5, achieving the fastest time and finishing 15.8 seconds faster than the second ŠKODA youngster, O.C. Veiby. Veiby is running outside the WRC 2 classification in Argentina, and is listed in the RC 2 class instead.
At the midday break in Villa Carlos Paz, Rovanperä was leading the WRC 2 category and was 23 seconds ahead of Tidemand.
After the midday service break, the duel between the two ŠKODA factory crews continued. Rovanperä won another two stages, but Tidemand clawed a few seconds back by scoring the last stage win of the day. At the end of the Saturday leg, Kalle Rovanperä held a lead of 23.2 seconds. “We are going quite well, but we had to really push, because Pontus was doing well. I just played it safe, I didn’t want to get a puncture”, he said. Pontus Tidemand confessed: “We want to get to the finish without problems.”
ŠKODA junior O.C. Veiby had another strong day, although the young Norwegian suffered two punctures in his ŠKODA FABIA R5. As a consequence, he lost roughly two minutes, dropping him back to fourth in the RC2 class. ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek commented: “What an incredible fight between Kalle and Pontus! Hats off to them, that they drove at that speed without making any mistakes. I’m especially proud that our ŠKODA FABIA R5 mastered the very rough and rocky Argentinian stages without any problems.”
Rally Argentina concludes on Sunday with another three stages, including two runs over the iconic “El Condor”.
Standings Rally Argentina after Day 3 (WRC 2)
- Rovanperä/Halttunen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 3:09:24.1 h
- Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +23.2 sec.
- Greensmith/Parry (GBR/GBR), Ford Fiesta R5, +2:27.7 min.
- Heller/Olmos (CHL/ARG), Ford Fiesta R5, +7:36.2 min.
- Dominguez/Galindo (MEX/MEX), Hyundai i20 R5, + 12:57.8 min.