Sebastien Loeb admits he was powerless to halt Sebastien Ogier's run to victory in Rally Sweden.
The Frenchman, who will now not reappear until Rally Argentina in May, claimed an early lead when he won the superspecial but then surrendered more than 31 seconds on Friday. Loeb said he held nothing back trying to close the gap over the final two days, but conceded Ogier was always in control at the front.
"I was on my limit. I pushed really hard and tried my best all the time," Loeb said. "I [did] some great stages, [made] some little mistakes. I tried, but it was not possible.
"I as pushing very hard trying to keep the pressure – I knew I could not take the 30 seconds, but to keep the pressure. But he [Ogier] has done a great race. He didn't lose too much time: a little here and there.
"We did a good rally, but not enough."
Loeb said his Friday problems were the result of a poor set-up choice, which was itself prompted by his 3.4s deficit to Ogier in qualifying.
"It didn't start so well in qualifying, we had a bad time. Maybe I was sleeping a bit, I don't know the reason. Maybe I am too old!
"After this qualifying, I started to change the setup. I thought maybe this was the problem, then I went wrong and we struggled in the first day and I lost 30 seconds. When you do this in Sweden and the other guy is [driving] as fast, then you cannot catch back the time."