Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has said a bad start to Rally Sweden and a change in set-up cost him the chance of a victory on the event.
Loeb, who is only doing four WRC events this season, was keen to try and win the second round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, as he was only won in Hagfors once, back in 2004. However it all went wrong on Thursday, when he was off the pace and only eighth in qualifying. That left him out of position on the opening day, and in combination with some ill-conceived changes to his Citroen DS3 WRC car, he finished day one firmly on the backfoot, 31.4 seconds off eventual winner, Sebastien Ogier. Ogier eventually won by 41.8 seconds.
“It didn't start so well in qualifying, maybe I didn't push enough,” admitted the current world champion. “We lost a lot of time, and after this [qualifying], I started to change the set-up.
“I thought maybe this was the problem, then I went wrong and we struggled on the first day [partly because of the set-up and partly because of our road position] and I lost around 30 seconds.”
Loeb also added that the specific nature of the Swedish rally was a factor in him not being able to make up the time lost on the first day.
“When you do this [set the car up incorrectly] in Sweden and the other guy is [driving] as fast, then you cannot catch back the time.”
Despite losing out to his former team-mate and compatriot, Loeb was not disheartened by his performance.
“It was exciting, I was really on my limit,” Loeb continued. “I was pushing very hard [on the final day] trying to keep the pressure [on Ogier]. I knew I could not take the 30 seconds, but I tried my best all the time. I have done some great stages [and] some little mistakes. I tried [to catch Ogier], but it was not possible. Congratulations to him and his team for this first win, they produced a flawless performance this weekend.”
Loeb also joked that his slow start to the event was due to age, given he turns 39 this year.
“Maybe I was sleeping a bit, I don't know the reason. Maybe I am too old!” he concluded.
by George East