Sebastien Loeb has popped back into his Citroën WRC overalls to put that Ogier upstart at Volkswagen back in his place. To do that he won the 2013 Rally Argentina by a comfortable 55 seconds. The Volkswagen duo of Sebastien Ogier and Jar-Matti Latvala filled the minor placings.
As always, Loeb’s victory adds to his impressive and surely unbeatable record. He’s raced in Argentina eight times for eight wins and this is his 78th career win.
“It’s pretty incredible to win Rally Argentina for the eighth time running, in front of so many passionate fans,” Loeb said after claiming his final WRC victory on gravel. “Winning wasn‘t essential for me, but I really got into it when I saw that I was on the pace. Ogier was also quick, but I was a bit more consistent before pulling clear at the end of the second leg. I am pleased to win here for the team; they really deserve it.”
Driver error was one of the reasons Ogier had to settle for second place, he held a 17 second lead over Loeb before losing 40 seconds after missing a braking point on SS7. With no title threat from Loeb possible Ogier decided discretion was the better part of valour.
“Second place is a brilliant result in terms of the world championship and our success was down to the whole team,” reasoned Ogier. “It was an incredibly challenging and difficult rally and my own performance wasn’t entirely flawless. It’s a shame that I couldn’t keep fighting it out against Sébastien Loeb right to the end.”
Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala had to really fight hard with Ford driver Evgeny Novikov for third place. Latvala only grabbed P3 on the second last stage and it’s fair to say he was happy with his work.
“Today was the best day’s rallying since I joined Volkswagen. The team spirit, the car—verything reached a whole new level today, including the driver,” Latvala said. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be standing on the podium for the first time in Argentina. Things often haven’t gone that well here in the last few years, so I’m really pleased to have achieved my goal.”
The WRC field returns to Europe for the Acropolis Rally (2 June). Sebastien Loeb’s fourth race for 2013 and his last ever WRC event will be Rally France in October.