It was a case of déjà vu at YPF Rally Argentina as the pairing of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassa were forced to settle for fourth as their search for an elusive victory in the town of Villa Carlos Paz continues.
The championship leader started the weekend brightly after winning the opening gravel stage on the Friday, finishing the day just 13 seconds adrift of second place.
However, Saturday proved to be the downfall of the Frenchman as poor visibility blighted Ogier’s charge. The pair opted for a safer approach in comparison to their rivals as they consolidated their position at the head of the standings.
Whilst there was an air of disappointment as the M-Sport pair failed to secure a podium position, the World Champion remained relatively upbeat concerning his weekend’s work.
“This weekend in Argentina was a difficult one for us,” said Ogier, “but we still managed to get some important points for the championship, which is the main thing.
“The rally began well, we made a solid start on Friday, despite the road-sweeping involved in being first out.
“Although it was a disadvantage for the rest of the day, that opening position helped us out on the first stage because we were the only ones not to be blinded by the dust.”
Ott Tanak dominated the weekend, winning 10 of the 12 stages as the rest of the field were left to fight over the remaining podium places.
Ogier was boosted by the retirement of Citreon’s Kris Meeke, as the Brit suffered a puncture in the last stage on Saturday.
But the championship leader lacked the pace to improve on his record of three wins from the opening four rounds as he struggled to navigate the sandy Argentine roads.
The low grip routes proved to be a menace for Ogier as his Ford Fiesta struggled with traction, a problem that Ford continue to find a solution for.
“The target at that point was to get second place,” claimed the Frenchman, “unfortunately, Saturday was disappointing and our performance was not up to our expectations.
“On top of that the conditions in the morning stages were difficult; I wasn’t prepared to take all possible risks in the fog and that cost us dearly.
“On the other hand, we finished the weekend well by defending our fourth place on Sunday when Andreas was coming up strong behind us and by scoring extra points on the Power Stage.”
Thierry Neuville’s second place reduced Ogier’s championship advantage to ten points, and the Belgian also claimed the maximum five bonus points in the Power Stage.
Ogier had to settle for second in the Power Stage, coming away from South America with a valuable 16 points as the WRC heads back to Europe.
“In the end, I can’t say that I’m satisfied because the goal was to finish on the podium,” claimed Ogier, ”but nevertheless the result is fairly positive.
“Congratulations to our former team-mates Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja for their performance this weekend, they were clearly the best in Argentina.”