Citroen now holds a commanding one-two in the Rally Argentina after Ford's Mikko Hirvonen retired with engine problems after SS15.
Hirvonen had been just six seconds behind leader Sebastien Loeb going into the second half of the event, before having to back off with soaring engine temperatures on the second run through Mina Clavero. With another two stages and a superspecial to go this afternoon, Ford had no choice but to retire the car.
"The first thing Mikko reported was that the water temperature had gone to 140 degrees, which obviously is way in excess of what the car can run at," Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson told World Rally Radio
. "He got to the end of the stage, and we don't exactly know what the problem is here. We'll need to bring the car back and unfortunately he's going to have to retire. It's probably the water pump or a burst hose or the radiator. These stages are so rough."
That leaves Loeb with a 39.9sec cushion over teammate Dani Sordo, while Jari-Matti Latvala has moved up to third in the second works Ford after both Petter and Henning Solberg picked up punctures on SS14. The Norwegian siblings were able to continue in fourth and fifth.
Wilson doubted whether Hirvonen would be able to resume under superally rules tomorrow.
"There's a possibility, but when the engine has been at that sort of temperature for quite a while, there's a risk that there could be internal damage," he said.
"Until we get the car back and assess everything, we don't know whether we'd be able to do superally. If we can then we certainly want to."