Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier
has admitted it was 'pretty disappointing' not to clinch the 2013 WRC Drivers' title on Rally Australia, although he was still happy with his weekend.
Ogier won 19 of the 22 stages – including the Power Stage - to bag the maximum number of points possible en-route
to his sixth victory of the season.
However a final-stage puncture for Mikko Hirvonen, who had been running second in his Citroen
DS3 WRC, allowed Ogier's nearest championship rival Thierry Neuville into the runners-up spot.
The extra points for Neuville, allied to two bonus points for taking second in the final Shipmans Power Stage, meant Ogier fell one point short of mathematically securing the title.
“What a crazy end to the rally! Of course I'm pleased to have won here in Australia, but it's pretty disappointing to be on course to win the World Championship title the whole time and then lose it again in the last kilometre,” said Ogier. “Apart from that, it was a fantastic rally for us Down Under. We won 19 of the 22 Special Stages and collected three points in the Power Stage too. The Polo R WRC worked perfectly throughout the weekend, the team did a great job – but in the end we just weren't quite lucky enough to make the dream of winning the crown come true today.
“We're going to celebrate in style afterwards all the same. And when tomorrow comes, I'll start looking forward to my home rally and the fans in France.
"I want to clinch the title there by winning and take my team a big step closer to winning the Manufacturers' Championship.”
Asked about his feelings following the final stage dramas, Ogier admitted things did fall a bit flat: “To be honest, it was a bit of a strange feeling at the end of the last stage when we heard on the radio: 'Congrats guys, you won the rally... but you have to wait for the Championship.'. Then we [Julien Ingrassia - my co-driver and I] said: 'Oh ****'. We knew before the start that this could happen, even if we score maximum and win the Power Stage, we knew that Thierry could finish second and do that. In this case we would not be champion. But regarding that, all the weekend we were the virtual champion – [and it was only] at the last minute it was a frustration.”
Pressed on if he had had any problems during the four-days, Ogier stated: “Honestly, it's been really perfect, no real moments. It was okay. In this kind of rally when you start well with good qualification, then you have a good starting order. It looks easy when you see we are winning all the stages, but this is because we did a good job with Julien and all of the team. Okay, this [not taking the tite] is a small frustration, because we cannot write that we are world champions, but it's almost there – and we are doing a great job for the Manufacturers [Championship] too and I am very happy for that. Volkswagen deserves it and it's my objective [to win the Manufacturers' for them] as well.”
Ogier's thoughts now turn to his home event next month and with compatriot Sebastien Loeb
returning – for his final outing in the WRC – the French fans are sure to be out in force. Ogier, however, has only one goal.
“The competition [there] will be interesting with Dani [Sordo] and Thierry – they are both quick, and, of course, Seb [Loeb] will be coming back and we know he will be on the pace.
"It is quite easy [however, what we will be aiming for] – we go for the victory, nothing other than that,” Ogier summed-up.