Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has insisted he is happy to have taken second on Rally Finland as team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was unbeatable and deserved to take the victory.
Ogier reckoned he lost his chance to win on the opening day and while Latvala's problems on Saturday afternoon – when the Finn hit a pothole and damaged his brakes – closed things right up, leaving them split by just 3.4 seconds going into the final leg, the Frenchman still never really felt it was possible to win.
“I think the fans and also we will remember this Rally Finland for a long time to come. I may not have won, but it was still a fantastic final with a great battle all the way to the very last second,” said Ogier, who won Rally Finland last year.
“Congratulations to Jari-Matti and Miikka [Anttila – his co-driver], they really deserved this win in their home country. They were simply unbeatable this time. I already knew this morning that reducing their lead would be difficult. When you drive almost an entire stage at full speed, you can't even make good a 3.4-second deficit if the driver in front doesn't make any mistakes.
“Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I took all the risks we could in the penultimate stage, but Jari-Matti matched our pace. Overall, it's been a fantastic weekend and I'm perfectly happy with the points we scored for coming second in Finland.”
Speaking in the post-event press conference, Ogier reiterated that he was not disappointed with P2.
“I still feel good. Jari and Miikka have been in great form and there was not so much room to beat them after day one when I lost all my chance. I came back after their problem yesterday [Saturday], but even when the gap was just three seconds it was almost impossible,” Ogier maintained.
“The speed they had… there was just two-tenths difference between us today and I never managed to put myself in the same spirit as Jari. For sure I was much more thinking about the championship. In the end I was struggling with the confidence, making some small mistakes with the driving. And, when that happened, I am still happy to be second. It was a lot of suspense for the rally and it's good for Jari and Miikka, they deserve this victory.”
Asked what the feeling was like going into final day given the gap was so small, Ogier added: “It's like I told you, I never switched my mind completely. I said I continue on the plan, but never go for the extra risk. Yesterday afternoon we changed the set-up a little and I felt more comfortable, but I was never able catch them – only in a few places.
“Myhinpaa [SS25 - today] was very impressive. Maybe there was two seconds more in Myhinpaa, but I lost more in the first one [SS24]. It could have been closer, but they would still win. Congrats to them, this is a good one for the team. I hope we do the same result in Germany, but I will do my best to reverse the order!”
Ogier's lead in the Drivers' Championship is now reduced slightly, but he remains 44 points up with five events to go thanks to his haul in Jyvaskyla – boosted slightly by his win in the Power Stage, which rewarded him with three bonus points.
“It [my position in the championship] is really good to be honest. To come out of Finland with 21 more points is good and to be beaten by a Finn here, it's no shame at all,” Ogier noted. “Forty-four points still looks good for us, but I repeat: nothing is done. Everything can happen and that's why I stay focused on my target which is to be champion...”