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WRC Rally Argentina: Neuville into lead after Tanak spins

Thierry Neuville Hyundai WRC Rally Argentina 2019

World Rally Championship points leader Thierry Neuville moved into the lead of Rally Argentina as Ott Tanak spun from first to third on Friday's final stage.

Toyota initially looked strong on the Friday afternoon loop, with Kris Meeke leading and Tanak retaking second place from Neuville's Hyundai on Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique.

Meeke's stint at the front ended on Amboy - Yacanto, which was being run for the first time after its cancellation on the morning loop, as he dropped nearly 20 seconds to rivals earlier in the start order on the damp roads and fell to fourth place.

Tanak moved back into the lead with a second consecutive stage win but was then losing time to Neuville on the second pass of Santa Rosa - San Agustin even before spinning only a few corners from the finish line.

He pointed to a broken driveshaft as the cause of his rotation.

Ott Tanak Toyota WRC Rally Argentina 2019

That incident cost him 24.8s relative to Neuville, which dropped Tanak 13.4s off the rally lead and down to third - 1.5s behind new second place man Sebastien Ogier's Citroen.

Behind fourth-placed Meeke, who is now 28.1s adrift of Neuville up front, i20 WRC pair Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo were locked in a close battle for fifth throughout Friday afternoon.

Both Mikkelsen and Sordo leapt ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala to take fifth and sixth respectively when the third Toyota was slowed by a right-rear puncture.

Sordo then grabbed fifth on SS7 but a poor time on Santa Rosa - San Agustin demoted him back to seventh, usurped by both Mikkelsen and Elfyn Evans in the lead M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC - who moved into sixth place.

Latvala's position remains unclear after a marshalling mix-up, instigated by an accident for Esapekka Lappi - whose heavily damaged Citroen C3 could not be moved off-road.

A red flag was waved from the side of the road for Latvala but no subsequent drivers, leading the Toyota to finish the stage at a reduced speed while those behind went through unaffected.

Latvala's time was 1m42.6s slower than Neuville's stage-winning benchmark, dropping him to ninth behind Teemu Suninen. But some of that time loss was also down to a spin after hitting a bank.

A nominal time is likely to be sought by Latvala's Toyota team given the mix-up, which would potentially promote him back up the order by at least one position.

With Lappi crashing out, Citroen's WRC2 Pro entry is now 10th overall with Mads Ostberg at the wheel.

Marco Bulacia Wilkinson was promoted to second in WRC2 Pro after M-Sport's Gus Greensmith was forced to retire with broken front-left suspension on Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique.

Leading positions after SS8

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai1h11m13.9s
2Sebastien Ogier, J.IngrassiaCitroen Total WRTCitroen11.9s
3Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota13.4s
4Kris Meeke, S.MarshallToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota28.1s
5Andreas Mikkelsen, A.JagerHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai29.4s
6Elfyn Evans, S.MartinM-Sport Ford WRTFord38.2s
7Dani Sordo, C.del BarrioHyundai Shell Mobis WRTHyundai41.1s
8Jari-Matti Latvala, M.AnttilaToyota Gazoo Racing WRTToyota1m13.6s
9Teemu Suninen, M.SalminenM-Sport Ford WRTFord1m59.2s
10Mads Ostberg, T.EriksenCitroen TotalCitroen6m11.1s

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