Sebastien Ogier has congratulated his Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala after he beat him to victory on Rally Argentina, adding that the Finn deserved the result.
Ogier did lead early on, but slipped back decisively in the final test on Friday. He then lost further ground on Saturday and Sunday, with Latvala quicker in eight of the remaining nine stages, except the Power Stage, where Ogier put in a big push to secure the win and the maximum three bonus points.
“The conditions at this Rally Argentina were the most difficult ones I've experienced for a long time. The road conditions were incredibly tough on the drivers and the cars, so I'm very happy with second place,” Ogier insisted. “I'd like to congratulate Jari-Matti, who put in a strong performance and deserved to win. I'm actually pleased that people are realising it's not as easy to win as it might sometimes look!
“Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I gave our all throughout the weekend, but especially at the end the gravel tracks were so slippery and muddy that our only objective was to make it across the line. Mastering 'El Condor' [ran as SS12 and SS14 on Sunday] in particular was a real adventure. Nevertheless, it's always overwhelming to tackle the stage in front of so many frenetic fans.
“I'm looking forward to next year now, when I'll have another go at making it to the top of the podium here.”
Asked when he realised he wouldn't be able to catch Latvala, Ogier replied: “I really hate the stage of Mina Clavero [used as SS11 and SS13 on Sunday], it is really not my stage. If you start to push there, it is really a lottery. So, to be honest, I didn't want to push there. I was really, really slow in the first three stages [on Sunday] and I just pushed on the Power Stage to get the extra points. I don't regret that I didn't push this morning and I accept to finish second. I think it is not today that I lost the rally, it was before.
“On day one, my performance was not too bad; I suffered probably a bit from the cleaning, then, on day two, I think that without this puncture we'd be pretty equal on Saturday night. And at the end, we had to push like crazy to fight for the victory here, so maybe both cars would not be at the end. So for Volkswagen it is maybe better this way.”
“It is not bad to score 21 points here," he continued. "I lost only five to Jari. So thinking about the Championship, it is really not bad. Of course I came here like always with the target of victory, but first I have to say that every time I repeat that I don't like too much rough rallies and I think now it's the roughest rally in the Championship, so it is not a big deal for me to not win this one."
“We still have a quite good pace and then with the conditions today we decided not to push to the maximum. I just don't want to say that Jari won because of that though, because he deserved the victory [along] with Miikka [Antilla – his co-driver],” the Frenchman stressed. “They did a fantastic job, the team as well because we have two very strong cars, no problem at all. When you see the conditions that we had to face, it is really remarkable. I'm still pleased with the end of this rally, even if you know that I don't like to finish second. This weekend it is not a bad result.”