Rd.3 Rally Argentina

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
3 to 6 May 2007

PREVIEW

Southbound Again

3 May 2007
Copyright © STI 
After visiting Mexico for Round 2 of the series, this weekend the Production Car World Rally Championship makes its annual visit to South America, on one of the most revered events of the season, Rally Argentina.

Famous for its high-speed stages run over treacherous terrain, it is an event best described as a thinking driver's rally - one where survival is key. Many a young charger has come to the River Plate region expecting to take away the laurels after demonstrating outright pace; but this has rarely proven to be the case on this most wicked of car-breakers.

Among the SUBARU-equipped entrants, 2004 P-WRC champion Niall McShea makes a triumphant return to the championship, in his first event since being crowned king over two years ago. The 2005 and 2006 P-WRC champions, Toshi Arai and Nasser Al Attiyah respectively, are also in Argentina, and both must be considered top contenders here. Al Attiyah took his first P-WRC victory on this event back in 2005, and backed it up with another Argentinean win last year, while veteran Toshi Arai seems to excel on the toughest of events.

Other strong protagonists include Swedish sensation Patrik Flodin, who made such a strong impression on a number of events last year. Current championship points' leader and compatriot Kristian Sohlberg should also prove very tough to beat. Another who could come away from Argentina with a top result is Mirco Baldacci, and Pole Leszek Kuzaj's chances cannot be discounted either.

On only his second P-WRC event, American Travis Pastrana could post some promising stage times - if his debut in Mexico is anything to go by. The remaining SUBARU-equipped competitors include Alexander Dorosinskiy, Spyros Pavlides and Loris, younger brother of Mirco Baldacci.

Pre-event test notes:

As is the norm in the P-WRC, there is a pre-event test conducted on the Monday prior to each rally in the championship. Organised by STI Group N Project General Manager George Donaldson, this year's Rally Argentina test attracted a massive 21 cars from the Production championship - nearly all the cars in the category. Of that number, 12 were SUBARU entries.

George Donaldson - STI Group N Project General Manager:

"Because of the number of cars and the fact that all the drivers needed to get in a good day's test, we had two roads, split across two areas, allowing the drivers to choose which road they went to. We had the most fabulous test road and an amazing lunch at a villa up in the mountains above La Falda. Everybody reported having a great test on a very representative road - with twisty, bumpy narrow sections, and also a high-speed section for engine tests."

The day dawned wind-free, with temperatures reaching 23 Celsius at the test site located 1600 metres above sea level.

Copyright © STI 
Toshi Arai had a good day, with no problems to report. Likewise, Nasser Al Attiyah ran trouble-free, something the Qatari driver hasn't enjoyed for three or four events. Including the rallies, he's had an incredibly tough start to the year, but hopefully that's all behind him. Here in a brand new car, he spent the day adjusting his Impreza's suspension settings.

Mirco Baldacci had a couple of things he wanted to check on shock absorbers and car set-up, and was finished by mid-afternoon. His car then went off for a new engine and complete re-build. Meanwhile, Spyros Pavlides began the test with a new engine and the car fully re-built: "I am very happy with the test. We found some adaptations to the suspension settings we wanted for the conditions here in Argentina" commented the Cypriot driver.

Kristian Sohlberg looked to be the hardest working competitor on the test, confirming: "There's a whole load of test data we have from a development test conducted in Greece earlier in the month. That, plus finding the ideal set-up for the car on the conditions we expect to find here means we've had a full day."

Alexander Dorosinskiy started the day looking to get the ideal car for the rally. He worked very hard with the suspension technicians, and finally they got the car set up exactly correctly.

Getting the car set up optimally between driveability and maximum traction is a very tricky business, so it's uppermost in competitors minds as they test for the rigorous demands that await them in Argentina.