Ogier and Ingrassia just 2.4 seconds from victory!
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia led into the closing day of the Rally New Zealand, having set six fastest times and eventually equalled their best FIA World Rally Championship result of second overall. The Citroen Junior
Team crew missed out on victory by just 2.4 seconds. The final day of the 2010 Rally New Zealand was the shortest one of all, but it was no less fearsome because of that. With two loops of two stages and 81.70 competitive kilometres, the route out towards Raglan offered a great show.
Having started first on the road by virtue of his lead, Sebastien Ogier found particularly delicate conditions on Te Hutawai (SS18) and lost his first place by 4.5 seconds. "On the opening stage, we had a spin that cost us a dozen seconds and the rally lead," explained the Citroen Junior Team driver at the Raglan service area. "In Whanga coast, we were sweeping the road a lot. I was going as hard as I could but I knew that we weren't making progress and that I would lose a lot of time." As Sebastien Ogier left the stop point in Whaanga Coast (SS19), Sebastien Loeb
also made a mistake that cost him around 50 seconds. So the Citroen Junior Team driver regained first place before the final loop.
In Te Hutewai 2 (SS20), Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia pushed hard again. Thanks to a second- fastest time the French crew made the most of their road position with a 6.2-second advantage over their new rival for victory : Jari-Matti Latvala.
The number 7 Citroen C4 WRC launched into the final stage with three competitors covered by 20 seconds. Sebastien and Julien managed to see off the assault from Sebastien Loeb
, but a small mistake within sight of the finish cost them a few precious seconds and first place !
"We were so close to our first WRC win," said Sebastien. "That spin three corners from the finish deprived us of a great result. But that shouldn't take way anything from the fact that fighting for victory right down to the last stage on our first trip to New Zealand has surpassed all our expectations. It's very encouraging and I'm looking forward to crystallising all our efforts and that of the team for our first victory."
By finishing second, 2.4 seconds behind the winner Jari-Matti Latvala, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia equal their best ever World Rally Championship result. They previously finished second on the 2009 Acropolis Rally.
"Sebastien and Julien have driven a fantastic rally, concluded Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. "They have put in an exceptional performance even though the last split changed everything. The result is a huge satisfaction for the entire team, which has been right up there in all the rallies it has contested since last season. Technically, we have not experienced the slightest problem. In Portugal we will once more have two Citroen C4 WRCs for Sebastien Ogier and Kimi Raikkonen
, and we hope to star once more."