Sebastien Ogier holds a narrow lead over Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Loeb at the end of a tense and foggy first morning of Rally Argentina.
Volkswagen had things all its own way on the opening Sta Catalina to La Pampa stage, as Ogier went quickest and opened an 8.8-second lead over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.
Loeb was back in fourth, just behind Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, and struggling to find the right rhythm in his first World Rally Championship appeal. But on the following 51-kilometer Asochinga to Agua de Oro stage, Citroen fought back, with Hirvonen and a much happier Loeb first and second fastest.
Ogier lost 6.7sec to Hirvonen and hit out at third works Citroen driver Dani Sordo, who he accused of holding him up. Sordo had rolled his car due to a miscalled pace note, and was limping through the stage without power steering. Ogier therefore heads to the midday service 3.6sec ahead of Hirvonen and 6sec in front of Loeb.
Latvala struggled with extreme tire wear on Ascochinga and fell to fourth, 23.5sec from the lead.
Mads Ostberg is the best of the M-Sport Ford drivers in fifth, already half a minute behind. Both the Norwegian and team-mate Thierry Neuville struggled with windscreen wiper issues on SS2.
Sordo's incident leaves him nearly eight minutes behind the front-runners.
Leading positions after SS3:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 1h01m04.0s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 3.6s
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 6.0s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 23.5s
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford + 33.2s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen VW + 55.9s
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1m05.5s
8. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford + 1m25.9s
9. Gabriel Pozzo M-Sport Ford + 3m08.1s
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 3m19.4s