Citroën scores its seventh consecutive victory in Argentina!
"After Friday’s penalty I wasn’t counting on this victory"
Rally Argentina was marked by several twists and finally Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena came out on top for the sixth time on the bounce! The seven-time world champions took the
lead in the last stage after having made up the one-minute penalty they received on the first day. Despite a roll in the longest stage of the event, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia
finished on the third step of the podium. Citroën continued the series of wins in South America, which began in 2004.
The last day’s programme of Rally Argentina was an atypical one with a stage of over 48 kilometers to be tackled as the sun rose. The crews had been up since 5h00 in the morning and they had a quick stop in the Villa Carlos Paz service park before battle began. They then set off for Ascochinga for the longest stage since the start of the season!
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, first out on the road; made a cautious start to nurse their 43.7s lead. In the final kilometer of the stage their Citroën DS3 WRC rolled onto its roof! ”A stupid mistake,” admitted Ogier at the finish. “All we had to do was to drive on to victory. I had noted an apex to be taken in a corner, and it ended in a roll. We were able to restart but the car was damaged. In addition to the superficial damage, we no longer had power steering. The windscreen was broken and we lost our rear wing.”
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in third place quickly realized that the nature of the terrain wouldn’t allow them to get the better of Mikko Hirvonen: “There was fog and it was very damp. In these conditions there’s no sweeping. Our first split times weren’t great. We had to go pedal to the metal to overtake.” The winner of the last five Rally Argentinas managed to snatch second place in the overall classification at the very end of the timed sector.
In the last three stages – some ten kilometers - Ogier tried to defend his position. Before the start of the Power Stage, he was only 3.3s in front of Loeb and 5.7s in front of Hirvonen: “It was really tough. In the last stage I felt that I wouldn’t be able to hold the wheel. Without power steering the car became incredibly heavy. We were totally unable to fight our corner,” summed up Sébastien.
While Loeb and Hirvonen took advantage of Ogier’s problems to overtake the Frenchman, he saved the points for third place: “It’s a lesser evil for the team. We haven’t lost too many points in the manufacturers’ classification. On the other hand, it’s not a great result for the drivers’ title chase. I’m really very disappointed.”
Loeb was in attack mode right till the very end and took over the lead from his team-mate. At the flag he was 2.4s in front of Hirvonen: “After Friday’s penalty I wasn’t counting on this victory. We pushed really hard to get back in contact with the front-runners and to beat Hirvonen. Once again the outcome was decided by a hair’s breadth. It seems that Rally Argentina is my happy hunting ground!”
Loeb congratulated his team-mate, and insisted on the fact that: “I understand what he must be feeling. I’ve had similar misadventures. It’s frustrating and disappointing but these mistakes can happen. Still he managed to bring the car home to the finish, and that’s very important for the team.”
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