Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier
has admitted to feeling a little frustrated after having to settle for the runners-up spot on Rally Argentina and has said 'a bit too many problems' cost him the victory.
Ogier went to the South American event, the fifth round in the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, on the back of a hat-trick of wins in Sweden, Mexico and Portugal and initially was in a class of his own, winning five of the first six stages.
However on day two it went wrong in the second test, SS7, the 39.16 km Amboy-Yacanto stage, when he missed a braking point, skidded off the course and had to reverse. The error - due to handbrake problems - cost him around 40 seconds and he never got back on terms with Sebastien Loeb. Indeed although Ogier tried to fight back on the repeat loop in the afternoon, a puncture at the end of SS8 left him with no real choice but to concede defeat.
Still second was a good result for the VW pilot and he retains his lead in the Drivers' Championship, increasing his advantage over his main rival, Mikko Hirvonen, from 54 points to 65.
“Second place is a brilliant result in terms of the world championship and our success was down to the whole team. I need to say a special thank-you to my crew this time – they were a great support. It was an incredibly challenging and difficult rally though, and my own performance wasn't entirely flawless,” Ogier remarked. “It's a shame that I couldn't keep fighting it out against Sebastien Loeb
right to the end, but I would like to congratulate him on winning.”
Asked about his feelings at the finish, Ogier conceded they were mixed: “The most important was to finish the rally with good points and we scored 20 points [after also taking two bonus points in the Power Stgae]. So again, it's a very good advantage and we're staying in the lead [in the championship]. But of course, at the end we felt a little bit of frustration [too],” he continued.
“We know that the car is very young and we've still got some struggles in these conditions. But we had a really great start to the rally, I think our pace was very good but unfortunately, to beat Seb you need not only a good pace, you also need to be consistent and have no problems. We had a bit too many problems this weekend. But it is still a good result.”
So what went wrong in SS7 – and how much was the handbrake a factor in the off?
“It was a really tricky corner with a lot of gravel. Also there was a lot of mud. In these conditions you need the handbrake to work. The problem is that mine was not working since the last stage. I didn't feel it because nobody uses the handbrake too much. At that time, it just locked my front wheels and in that case you just go straight and I had no other chance than to go off the road. Luckily, we did not get stuck in a ditch so that was the most important thing,” he explained.
“After that, it was still possible to be in the fight, to put a little pressure on Mikko, and we did, and on Seb as well. Unfortunately then we had a puncture [in SS8] and the game was over.”
“Now, however, it's time for me to look to the future. We've got a test to do before the next rally in Greece. We'll make further improvements to the Polo R WRC then so that we can fight for first place again in four weeks' time,” he concluded.