Jamie Kent looks ahead to WRC Rally Argentina with the pairing of Craig Breen and Scott Martin hitting the road once more. The 18-stage event starts this Thursday.
One of the highlights of the WRC season, Rally Argentina is eagerly anticipated by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. Ten-time winners in South America, the Red Army is determined to defend its fantastic record with its Citroën C3 WRCs, driven by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Craig Breen/Scott Martin. Rally Argentina has a truly unique atmosphere, an event worth experiencing for any true motorsport fan.
The 2017 rally promises to be no exception to the rule, with a demanding route for both men and machines alike. After a gentle start on Thursday evening in the streets of Córdoba, the serious business gets underway on Friday with stages held around Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. The second leg will be even rougher, with two passes on the well-named “Los Gigantes” stage, some 38km in length.
Lastly, the crews that make it this far will get to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Mina Clavero and El Condor on Sunday’s final sprint.
Citroën has won Rally Argentina as a WRC event ten times in the last twelve years. This amazing run says a lot about the expertise of the team, who will have the daunting privilege of defending this record. As in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Mexico, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT will only enter two C3 WRCs.
They will be driven by two crews that did not compete here in 2016: Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Craig Breen/Scott Martin, who will be making their competitive debuts in South America. This lack of experience will be a genuine disadvantage, since thirteen of the eighteen stages are identical to last year.
The only new features are on Tanti – Villa Bustos, contested in the opposite direction, and San Agustin / Villa General Belgrano, which hasn’t been on the itinerary since 2008. Another particularly unpredictable factor is the weather. Anything is possible at this time of year: cold, dry conditions or springlike temperatures, torrential rain, fog, etc. Depending on the conditions, the running order and tyre choice will be more or less significant.
After three top-five finishes in as many appearances this season, Craig and Scott will need to get their bearings on this new surface before trying to get close to the leading crews. If they manage to keep out of trouble, they are almost certain to finish high up the standings. The history of Rally Argentina suggests that endurance and consistency are often rewarded!
Before departing for the event Craig said, “I can’t wait to compete in my very first rally outside Europe.”
“Argentina looks like a fantastic country, with some magnificent stages. I know I’m going to have a lot to learn and I’m aware that it could be a tough weekend for me. It’ll be my first event on gravel in the C3 WRC and it’s a quite a few years now since I last took part in a rally which was completely new to me. I’ll be making the most of every kilometre to build up my experience, without thinking about the final outcome.”