Rally Argentina 2013
There is a saying that ‘old habits die hard’. And that was certainly the case at last year’s Rally Argentina.
The hype surrounding the event was understandable.
Sebastien Ogier was leading the WRC standings and in superb form, while multiple world champion Sebastien Loeb was climbing back behind the wheel of a Citroen DS3 WRC for the first time in almost three months. His part-time programme of events in 2013 didn’t include the preceding rounds in Mexico and Portugal.
The question that everyone wanted answering was whether Loeb’s self-imposed WRC exile would leave him trailing in the wake of his speedy compatriot, or would Loeb still have enough in the tank to see off his rival and claim his 8th Rally Argentina win?
The early signs were ominous for Loeb as Ogier’s VW Polo R WRC stormed into the lead on leg one. The Frenchman was fastest on all but one stage to carve out a seemingly effortless advantage of 16.3s over Loeb.
But the race for victory swung into Loeb’s favour on leg two. While the wily Citroen driver went about his business in the self-assured style that you would expect from a man of his experience, Ogier was busy sliding off the road on the second stage and losing a massive 40s.
Ogier’s luck was then compounded when his car picked up a puncture later in the day. Both incidents left him trailing his rally-leading rival by 39.3s.
As leg three got underway, Ogier knew his rally was run and throttled back. A decent haul of championship points was now more valuable than a lead-chasing scrap he would very likely lose to Loeb.
Loeb meanwhile, continued to drive with a perfect mix of speed and caution on the last leg to seal his 78th career win. Winning WRC events has been a lifelong habit for Loeb. And, as Ogier discovered, he wasn’t prepared to break that habit at Rally Argentina 2013.