The 2013 edition of the WRC – Philips LED Rally Argentina was expected to be an epic battle between the retiring French champion Sebastien Loeb and France’s next great hope for rally supremacy, Sebastien Ogier. Hit the jump for our complete recap of the WRC-Philips LED Rally Argentina 2013.
The 2013 WRC season has started like many others in recent memory, with the first five races being won by a French guy named Sebastien. The notable difference is that this year most of those races have been won by Sebastien Ogier in the VW Polo R. It has been an impressive feat for the VW Motorsports team, in their first year at the top tier of the WRC, and for Ogier who is looking like the next great thing in rallying.
After a decade of utter domination, Sebastien Loeb is moving on to other racing pursuits and has committed to a very limited WRC schedule for his last year in the series. That being said, it is amazing to see him in second for the overall championship, despite having missed two races out of the first five. WRC-Philips LED Rally Argentina 2013 marked his final gravel rally as he is only scheduled to participate on the tarmac of the Rallye de France-Alsace in October.
With a focused Ogier looking to make his mark on the series and a retiring legend, and seven time winner of the Argentina Rally, the WRC-Philips LED Rally Argentina 2013 was shaping up to be one of the epic battles of the 2013 season.
When the flag dropped on the opening stages it became immediately apparent that both Sebastiens were giving no quarter. Poor tire choice put Sebastien the Elder on the back foot and at the end of the first day of full rally stages Ogier seemed to have the advantage. End of stage interviews showed that both men were really pushing and perhaps there was some tension between the former Citreon teammates.
The opening stages of the third day saw both men continue to battle until a mistake on the slippery stage 7 caused Ogier to nearly throw it all away down the side of an Argentinian mountain road. Ogier later claimed the VW Polo was suffering from handbrake issues, which he says they have suffered from all year, and he looked visibly frustrated. I suspect after that stage there was some talking in the VW trailer as Ogier seemed to back off a bit and protect his championship lead, instead of battling all out with Loeb who managed to claim his 8th victory in Argentina and his 78th win in the WRC.
It’s interesting to wonder what could have been if Citreon and Loeb had decided to run a full WRC schedule this season. After a decade of Sebastien dominance, and a 2013 that looks like it will be dominated by a different Sebastien, it would be exciting to watch a season where there were two exceptional drivers battling for the championship instead of just one. Don’t get me wrong, the likes of Latvala, Ostberg, Sordo, Hirvonen and the rapidly improving Novikov are amazing rally drivers but the two Sebastiens just seem to have that indefinable extra something that puts them well ahead of the rest.
While the weekend was notable for the battle of the Sebastiens, the treacherous water splashes and mountains of Argentina tested the mettle of all the drivers. Mads Ostberg continued to impress and Novikov manged an impressive fourth place overall. Looking at the final times M-Sport still has a long way to go to catch the VWs. Speaking of VW, Latvala swept the last five stages of the rally and continued to show that he has the outright speed, if not the luck or patience to be a contender in the championship.
The official results from the WRC page WRC-Philips LED Rally Argentina 2013
Here’s the official playlist for the WRC – Philips LED Rally Argentina 2013. Watching the videos really gives you s sense of how amazing Argentina is. If I ever get the chance to see a WRC event in person I think the Argentina Rally is the one I want to see.
Here’s our traditional gallery of images.
That’s going to wrap it up for this week’s coverage. We’ll have more WRC coverage at the end of May when the WRC series heads to Greece for the Acropolis rally.