Ogier slip puts Loeb in lead
FLYING HIGH: VW Polo driver Sebastien Ogier was way up in the 2013 Rally of Sweden on Friday before a missed turn let arch-rival Sebastien Loeb though to take the day by 40 seconds. Image: AFP
CORDOBA, Argentina - Nine-times World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb built a formidable 40sec lead over French compatriot Sebastien Ogier on Friday in the 2013 Rally of Argentina.
It's an event Loeb has won every year since 2005.
He and his Citroen won Friday's last two main stages with only a super-special to run, having already snatched the advantage from overnight leader Ogier (VW Polo) earlier in the day.
The only setback for Loeb was seeing Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen slip from second to sixth after a puncture and then electrical failure.
It took a rare error by World championship leader Ogier to hand Loeb the lead. He was ahead of the field by 17sec when he missed a crossroads in difficult muddy conditions near Cordoba.
Not only that, but his car was damaged in the process and he had to backtrack, losing 45sec in total on Stage 7. He lost more time time on Stage 8 with a front left puncture.
"I pushed really hard," Loeb said. "It's rough, but you have to go over the rocks and hope you don't get what happened to others."
Ogier wasn't too disappointed, knowing that Loeb is not a World title threat with the Frenchman having decided to run a reduced programme through 2013.
"It's not my plan (to catch Loeb). My plan was to catch Hirvonen. I only care about him," Ogier said.
Classification from the Rally of Argentina on Friday
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 3hr32min15.9
2 Sebastien Ogier (France) VW +39.8
3 Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford +2min43.3
4 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) VW +2min51.5
5 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Ford +3min32.5
6 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +6min43.3
7 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford +10min40.6
8 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford +12min13.9
9 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) VW +12min44.1
10 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Citroen +13min04.1