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Sunday 5th May 2013

Ogier and Loeb Battle it Out in Argentina But Loeb Triumphs

IT was the battle of the flying Sebs in Rally Argentina.

And if your name wasn’t Seb, then you didn’t even lead Round 5 of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Sebastien Ogier made the early running, leading for the first six stages in his Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC.

But when he missed his braking point for a muddy corner on SS7 and understeered off the road, he lost 40 seconds and the lead.

Sebastien Loeb inherited first place in his Citroen DS3 WRC and led for the remaining eight stages to win the Rally of Argentina for an amazing eighth consecutive time.

Speaking at the end of his third of four planned rallies this year, Loeb said: “It’s pretty incredible to win Rally Argentina for the eighth time running, in front of so many passionate fans.

“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.”

Ogier had dropped to third, but fought back to finish second.

The mistake may have cost him his fourth straight WRC win this year, but the runners-up spot sees Ogier extend his advantage at the top of the WRC drivers’ standings after five rallies.

Behind Ogier, team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala recovered from losing two minutes with a puncture to claim 3rd – his first podium finish in Argentina.

Volkwagen’s double podium result increases its lead at the top of the manufacturers’ table.

The Qatar M-Sport team narrowly missed out on a podium.

After over four and a half hours of flat-out competition on rough and wet gravel roads, Evgeny Novikov finished just 35.9 seconds behind Latvala, after a spirited drive in his Fiesta RS WRC.

The erratic Russian tried to defend third from a charging Latvala, although his fate was sealed when Novikov went off and lost 40 seconds on the final Power Stage.

Thierry Neuville adopted a more cautious approach, finishing a trouble-free fifth in another M-Sport Ford.

Mikko Hirvonen had been second following’s Ogier’s hiccup, but lost over six minutes with a puncture and electrical problems in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

Having arrived in Argentina aiming for victory, Hirvonen was disappointed with sixth.

Volkswagen’s young gun Andreas Mikkelsen had been going well until the rough roads broke his Polo R WRC’s front suspension.

He returned the following day under the Rally 2 rules and drove well to finish seventh.

It was an almost identical situation that befell fellow Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg.

His Fiesta RS WRC broke its front suspension too, and he returned the next day to finish 8th.

Dani Sordo (Citroen) and Martin Prokop (Ford) both rolled on the opening leg, eventually coming home ninth and 10th respectively after some skilful repair work with a hammer.
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