World champion Sebastien Loeb has spoken of the sense of frustration he felt when his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier dropped time on the Acropolis Rally to gain a more favourable road position.
Ogier was leading the Loutraki-based event with one stage of Saturday’s second leg remaining but admitted to slowing in order to run behind Loeb on the final day of the world championship qualifier.
The move ultimately enabled Ogier to claim his third victory of the season as Loeb struggled by running at the head of the field and sweeping the stages clear of the loose surface gravel.
Speaking after finishing second to Ogier in Greece, Loeb said: “I was frustrated on Saturday evening. I knew it would be some tactics and I knew it would be no issue for me. Finally, there were no split times in the last stage [from Ogier]. With no splits, the team give him [Ogier] the target time. So I asked: “Why do you give him the benefit and not me?” They knew he wouldn’t get his five seconds – he wanted 20 to stay ahead. At that moment, I was frustrated because I didn’t want to clean the road just in front of him [on Sunday].
“When you see the team playing tactics nearly against me… Okay it’s what we agreed before. If I had been in the position, it would have been the same for me. We know it’s the rule. For me, it’s no team order; each driver plays his tactics when he wants. If you lead the championship you cannot do it, but if you are behind you have the cards and it is okay. He has done it right.”
Olivier Quesnel, the boss of the Citroen Total World Rally Team, said: “The drivers are [joint] number one so they know they can push. What we did for Sebastien Ogier, we would have done exactly the same for Sebastien Loeb. They know the car is the same. We want this to be transparent for everybody, the media and the fans.”
Loeb continues to top the drivers’ standings with an advantage of 17 points over Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen following the Acropolis Rally. Ogier is now just five points behind Hirvonen in third.