Citroen Junior Team's Conrad Rautenbach has admitted that he was disappointed to lose out in the battle for fourth on the Acropolis Rally at the weekend.
Rautenbach was engaged in a fierce squabble with the Ford of Federico Villagra throughout the second and third days and with the advantage swinging back and forth the matter wasn't decided until the very final stage.
Indeed going into SS17, Conrad trailed Villagra by just 0.9 seconds. However in the end he was unable to match the seven-time Argentine champion and had to settle for P5, finishing 11.5 seconds adrift.
"It was an incredibly difficult event. We fought until the end to try to claim fourth place overall, and I am disappointed not to have won my duel against Frederico Villagra, but our result and that of the team are very good all the same," Rautenbach reflected.
"It was a very long fight, and that was great, but we have to learn to be more focused for the next rally.
"We started slowly today and Villagra was setting good times, he was faster. We wanted to save the tyres, but we lost time and we couldn't manage to keep them in good condition. So, when we pushed the car, it was dangerous. It would be nice to be fourth, but what can we do..."
Evgeny Novikov meanwhile also ran strongly in the sister Citroen Junior Team-run C4 WRC nominated to score manufacturers' points.
Indeed he was 12 seconds in front of Conrad and Villagra at the end of the second leg and was looking good until transmission problems on the final day cost him more than 15 minutes and dropped him right down the order.
He eventually ended up 16th, but despite not scoring, the 18-year-old was still happy as he posted his first WRC stage win on the Friday – and then took an additional three on day two.
"I am really happy with my good stage times in this rally. I think that we showed real speed and it was very positive that we drove all the stages and gained more experience," he confirmed. "Of course we faced problems, but the Acropolis was still great for me.
"I had come with the objective to go for strong, competitive times, and it's extremely satisfying to have been fastest on four stages.
"Granted our final position is a little disappointing but we showed our potential and gained a lot of experience."