The race was partly resolved by the abandonment of one of the favourites and winner of the 2018 edition, Ott Tänak. The Belgian driver has now 110 points, 10 more than his main rival, Ogier, and 28 more than Tänak.
Similarly, the South Korean team extends its lead to 37 points ahead of Toyota and 40 ahead of Citroën at the Constructors’ standings. An excellent weekend for the Alzenau team and their hopes for a first-ever Constructor crown.
Thousands of fans, rain and a great atmosphere
As every year, there was a large influx of spectators and a magical environment at the 2019 Rally Argentina, despite the persistent rain that fell for most of the time.
The rain gave way to some large pools of mud in some parts of the circuit, an extreme challenge that requires for drivers to deploy their full set of skills.
A solid driver and a firm victory
Neuville and Hyundai’s triumph in the 2019 Rally Argentina was unquestionable. The Walloon driver dominated the ‘Pampa race’ from the second day on. It´s his second triumph at South American race.
On Friday, he took the lead of the standings after a mistake from Ott Tänak; a position that he consolidated on Saturday after the withdrawal of the Estonian.
From that moment on, the driver from Saint Vith has been able to manage his advantage at the top of the table. He has not made a single mistake to raise the hopes of his pursuers. Mikkelsen, Ogier and Meeke have fought right until the last Super Special for the two remaining places of on the box.
Besides the numbers, the victory of Neuville is a great boost to his morale. Accused on several occasions – and with good reason – o flaking under pressure, he has now proved everyone wrong.
It is not easy to live under the shadow of a giant like Sebastien Ogier. The champion from Gap has been blocking the path to glory for Neuville since 2016.
So much so that the Belgian has accumulated four sub-championships (2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018), unable to break through to victory at the key moments.
This all seems to have changed now. This season he has already had two consecutive victories in Corsica and Argentina, and most importantly, he has exhibited a spirit that he previously lacked.
At the French island race, he took the victory at last Super Special. In Corsica, he displayed nerves of steel right up to the final meters. Neuville was calm, focused and confident, winning the psychological war to Elfyn Evans.
The last act in Argentina
Neuville has always had the speed and the talent but now he seems to have also conquered the emotional state of a champion. One just has to look at the last day of the 2019 Rally Argentina.
On Sunday, the final day, he started with an advantage of 45.7 seconds over his Norwegian partner, a distance he managed to perfection. Solid, consistent and precise in his driving style, the Belgian has sailed his way to the checkered flag.
Ogier, his great rival to the title, has finished third after Mikkelsen. The Frenchman, however, has conquered the last Power Stage at El Condor, making it clear that he remains the greatest threat for Neuville.
In two weeks‘ time at the Rally Chile, Tänak, one of the greatest drivers with possibly the best car of the grid, will arrive with a thirst for revenge in another chapter of the World Rally Championship.
RALLY ARGENTINA 2019 Standings:
1. Neuville(Bel/Hyundai) 3h 20’54”6
2. Mikkelsen(Nor/Hyundai) +48”4
3. Ogier(Fre/Citroën) +1”04”8
4. Meeke(GBr/Toyota) +1’06”2
5. Latvala (Fin/Toyota) +1’21”1
6. Sordo (Spa/Hyundai) +1’26”7
WRC Overall standings:
1. Thierry Neuville: 110 points
2. Sebastien Ogier: 100 points
3. Ott Tanak: 81 points
4. Kris Meeke: 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans: 43 points
7. Dani Sordo: 28 points
‘2019 Rally Argentina’: Citroën, Toyota, Ford, Hyundai & WRC.