My Rally Argentina Driver Picks

Toyota Yaris should win Rally Argentina 2019

My Tour de Corse driver picks turned out to be a popular post, even if it was entirely opinionated. I enjoyed writing it, being so close and yet so wrong. I got a few things right even if I got a lot wrong, such as the winner. Whilst choosing my team for Rally Argentina I’ve decided to try it again, knowing I may be cursing any or all the drivers. The team I mention is for Fantasy Racers, a free to play and time-sapping bit of fun I take far too seriously.

The rally has now passed so check out the Rally Argentina Pace Report.

Rally Argentina Pre-Event Reads/Links:

Thierry Neuville – Hyundai i20

As leader of the Championship Neuville will be chief road sweeper on Friday so I will immediately discount him for the win. He is however, one of the three drivers who are above the rules of normal road order theory. So he should be in a similar situation to Rally Mexico where he produced the goods to go with the misfortune of others to make a great 4th. He also knows how to hunt the next position, he should be able to do it again here. This should be a strong rally for both his Hyundai teammates who could be put in the situation where they are instructed to make way. I believe a climb up the leader board to a finish of 3rd-5th.

Sebastien Ogier – Citroen C3

Let’s not forget Ogier has never won in Argentina, but these records can be broken. I may be wrong but I don’t think he has come here not leading the series for as long as he has been champion. The Citroen has previously run well here with Kris Meeke, so these could be psychological catalysts. Second on the road finished 2nd last year and anything could happen. I expect strong times across the weekend, a benefit from other’s Friday hardships, but still second overall to Tanak.

Ott Tanak – Toyota Yaris

Ott Tanak
Ott Tanak is favourite to win Rally Argentina. Cr Twitter/OttTanak

Winner. Bet your house on it. These Argentine roads are made for Tanak’s Toyota and he is now smart enough not to overdrive like he did on some events last year. I have more faith in him in gravel spec then on sealed surface so if the car holds out as it should I expect an as comfortable win for him as he had in 2018. 10 of 18 stage wins and a lead that let him cruise to the finish on Sunday.

Elfyn Evans – Ford Fiesta

Everybody remembers Evans had a great 2017 Rally Argentina, but may forget a lacklustre 2018. I believe he will continue his 2019 form but the big 3 will pip him. Evans has less pressure to perform on his shoulders than the likes of Latvala, Mikkelsen and Lappi. Therefore he should be the safest bet of this group of silly-accident prone drivers. Combine with it the winning ambition of the team gives him a great chance. Should be up there on Friday evening but the top 3 should sniff him down. My expectation 4/5th.

Kris Meeke – Toyota Yaris

Meeke is the most difficult to predict. He’s still the only driver to have completed every KM so far this season and he is the first driver to bet on blasting a Power Stage. But we still haven’t seen a sustained attack for the duration of the rally without incident. They are only small issues such as punctures and damage from knocks that I am convinced are down to a driving style.

  • Monte-Carlo: xC 4th, two punctures, finished 6th.
  • Sweden: xC 9th, no incidents, finished 6th
  • Mexico: xC (until puncture) 3rd, finished 5th
  • Tour de Corse: xC 4th, two puncture/damaged suspension, finished 9th

This says to me Meeke is relying too much on luck for good results. Luck that he won’t knock something or that takes others out the rally. I expect that run of luck to continue into Argentina so I predict about 6th.

Esapekka Lappi – Citroen C3

Lappi is a hot or cold driver who can win multiple stages on one rally yet be nowhere the next. This year it seems he is not adapting to the Citroen C3 very well. Mexico was unimpressive even before the off, the xC of 9th was the lowest of all drivers. I believe we will see a similar story in Argentina. One interesting point to note is Lappi has the same points from 4 events as Craig Breen had in 2018, although it’s unfair to blame Lappi on his Monte retirement. Prediction: Last but for any retirements.

Dani Sordo – Hyundai i20

Unless he has an issue Sordo has every chance on Friday to get himself into a great position from which to defend through the weekend. But Dani seems to like nothing more, in my opinion, than to chuck away a good opportunity. That’s harsh when things haven’t been his fault such as the alternator failure in Mexico, but I feel whatever it was in Corsica was mostly in his head. And we have seen similar in previous seasons. Though he’s perfectly capable I can’t bring myself to gamble on him for a podium. I predict a good start but to find an ‘issue’ by Saturday afternoon, dropping to 4-6th.

Jari-Matti Latvala – Toyota Yaris

Jari-Matti Latvala is ready for Rally Argentina
Jari-Matti Latvala is due a dose of fortune. Cr. Twitter/JML

Bad Luck Brian of the year 2019. Results so far of 5th, 21st, 8th, 10th. Has dropped 23 championship points to his xC position, more points dropped than other driver. He may deserve a break but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the next round. Argentina hasn’t been too kind in recent years so a lot depends on the mentality of the driver. The best sense strategy is to keep it clean without pushing hard and take advantage of the fallers and donate the luck onto somebody else. But will he? I’m not yet convinced so put him about 8/9th.

Teemu Suninen – Ford Fiesta

Which Suninen will we get? Sensible, first-finish Teemu we saw in Corsica or free-to-push Teemu that canned Monte, Sweden and Mexico. I want to see the latter in the hope that he learnt something but don’t think Argentina is the environment for it. Therefore we should see a cooler drive and like I mentioned with Jari, should benefit from some retirements. How he finishes within the mid-field pack depends on how much of a push he wants to give. There’s no point cruising to 10th place.

Andreas Mikkelsen – Hyundai i20

One day I will look at how many rallies Mikkelsen has led on the opening day which he has thrown away. We saw it multiple time last season and in Mexico this year. In Argentina he can could play it safe and still not impress the boss. Or do what he is capable of and fight through Friday to the top, but this time keep it safe even if it means ceding position. I’m really willing Mikkelsen to show it can be done else he may reach the end of the season with no drive for 2020. Prediction: podium or bin.

My Rally Argentina Team

For my fantasy team I’ve picked near certain top finishers Tanak and Ogier. I’ve gone for Mikkelsen as number 3, like I did in Mexico, as ‘the luck’ in Argentina could strike any of the remaining drivers just as easily. That’s left enough budget for two WRC2 drivers I’ll keep secret.

The attack on the Power Stage depends so much on where the drivers are going into it. Any other Argentina stage or a Power Stage elsewhere and I would still have said Meeke. But El Condor is a tight and twisty hill climb. Thierry Neuville has won it for the past 2 years so for that reason I must pick him again.

My podium prediction is 1. Tanak 2. Ogier 3. Neuville. I’m under the belief here Neuville can climb past the midfield and pass his teammates under orders. Unless he doesn’t get there in which case he may cruise through Sunday, saving the tyres for an attack on the Power Stage. Then 3rd place must go to Mikkelsen. Unless he does bin it spectacularly in which case 3rd will go to…. I may start this again.

Agree or Disagree? Let me know @WRCStan or /u/PushingPace.

Featured image credit Toyota Gazoo Racing.

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