Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier says Hayden Paddon deserved to win Rally Argentina and that the New Zealander was “simply better” in the final test.
Ogier and Paddon went into El Condor 2 split by just 2.6secs and with the Frenchman having taken 19.8secs out of his rival in the previous stage, the signs were ominous.
Yet at the finish of the 16.32 km finale, it was Ogier that was down, 11.7secs slower, and only third quickest, leaving him second overall.
“The last stage was incredibly rough,” Ogier told the official WRC site. “I had a clean drive but I didn't dare take the maximum risk because there were big ruts. Well done to him [Paddon], he did a great job on the last stage.”
Speaking back in service, Ogier added that while he doesn't like losing, he could accept it a bit better in this case.
“It is not usually a good feeling for a driver to be beaten by an opponent. This time, however, it is easier to accept. Hayden and I had exactly the same conditions out on the route: he went absolutely all-out on the Power Stage, and was simply better. Respect for that performance,” Ogier explained.
Meanwhile, Ogier said he will use the defeat to spur him on in Portugal, although he emphasised that second was still a “fantastic” result, especially as it allows him to extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship.
“For me, this [result] will serve as a great motivation to once again give it my all at the coming rallies, in order to get back on the top step of the podium. The stages were extremely difficult and rough, which is possibly why I did not risk everything,” he reiterated.
“Second place is still a fantastic result for me [too] and we have extended our lead in the world championship standings.”
Meanwhile, McLaren-bound VW boss Jost Capito insisted the final stage showdown was a great advert for the WRC.
“WRC rallies do not get more exciting than that,” Capito enthused.
“Rally Argentina was a fantastic advertisement for our sport and despite an outstanding effort from Sebastien and Julien [Ingrassia – his co-driver], they came up just short. Congratulations to Hayden [Paddon] and John [Kennard], who were worthy winners.”