The third round of the IRC championship was held this weekend in the beautiful settings of Argentina. The stages that usually play host to the WRC would be ran with names like Meeke, Hanninen, and al-Attiyah and cars like Peugeot and Skoda. All eyes would be on Kris Meeke after a dominant win in Brazil a couple weeks ago, but it was not to be for the British star. Skoda, who has put together a very formidable effort would take a dominating 1-2-3 in the event and further strengthen their grasp on the IRC manufacturers title.
Juho Hänninen would take the overall victory after capturing 11 of the 15 special stages during the event. The victory puts the Finn five points ahead of fellow Skoda driver Guy Wilks for the overall championship lead. Jan Kopecký would eventually finish in the third position after Kris Meeke retired with one stage to go. The 2009 champion suffered a busted compressions strut which would take him out of the event. That makes 2 retirements out of 3 races for Kris and lands him 14 points out of the championship lead. Also notable retirement was my favorite for the event, Nasser al-Attiyah. The Qatari would retire after hitting a water bridge and causing a misfire in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
In the end, a brilliant run for the Skoda guys in Argentina. A 1-2-3 does their manufacturer championship aspirations no harm. They now lead the Peugeot team with 46 points compared to the French manufacturer’s 24 points. I think it is good to see the IRC manufacturers all getting a crack at victory. Granted four manufacturers are probably all you could realistically field with a chance of victory, it is a bit of fresh air to see Skoda take it to the Pugs. I found it interesting hearing Kris Meeke describe his problem at Autosport.com. The British driver was very upset with the failure and said it was the fault of the manufacturer. Kris is a pretty good rally driver, so I think it will be easy for him to put this one behind him, but it is going to take a pretty special effort to overhaul the Skodas. The Czech team really has it figured out and looks to be the team to beat this year.