Petter Solberg continues to lead the delayed Rally Argentina after the first two full-length stages, helped by three spins for Sebastien Loeb.
Ford driver Solberg had gained an early advantage by winning Thursday night's superspecial, on which the Citroens' choice of hard tires backfired, leaving Loeb already 10 seconds behind going into Friday morning.
When the opening La Pampa stage finally got underway after a one-hour delay due to problems with the refuelling truck, Loeb started regaining ground with the fastest time, 1.9sec up on Solberg. That stage win was achieved despite a quick spin, but on the following 51.88-kilometer Ascochinga/Agua de Oro stage, a further two spins proved more costly for Loeb, who lost 26.5sec to the leader and fell to fourth place. Solberg therefore holds a 20sec cushion over the other Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen, who moved ahead of Ford stand-in Dani Sordo on SS3.
Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior) and Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) run fifth and sixth, while behind them the demanding rally is already taking its toll.
M-Sport Ford duo Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak sustained a damaged wheel and a puncture, respectively, on stage two, then both stopped and retired on the next stage, while a spin for Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar Citroen) and a puncture for Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) delayed them as well.
Leading positions after SS3:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Petter Solberg Ford 1h06m00.0s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 20.1s
3. Dani Sordo Ford + 24.6s
4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 34.8s
5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 38.0s
6. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 51.1s
7. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 2m55.2s
8. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Skoda + 2m55.5s
9. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 3m04.0s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 3m59.4s