Present: 1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team 1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team 2nd - Marc Marti, Citroen Total World Rally Team 3rd - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu ...
1st - Sebastien Loeb, Citroen Total World Rally Team
1st - Daniel Elena, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Dani Sordo, Citroen Total World Rally Team
2nd - Marc Marti, Citroen Total World Rally Team
3rd - Mikko Hirvonen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
3rd - Jarmo Lehtinen, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Olivier Quesnel, Team Principal, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Welcome to the post event FIA press conference.
Q: Sebastien, congratulations on your fifth win in Spain -- double celebrations as Citroen has also clinched the Manufacturers title. A good weekend all round!
SL: It has been a fantastic day and weekend for the team. It was very important for the team and also for me for the Drivers' Championship to close the gap with Mikko (Hirvonen). I was five points behind and now I am one. I have to say thank you to the team and Dani (Sordo). Before, we knew we need to score four more than Mikko and I know we need Dani to help and he has done the perfect rally. He has given his own rally and that must be difficult to accept. So, thank you Dani. I hope we can do something nice on the next rally.
Q: Dani has been a good support driver consistently through the year...
SL: Yes he has. He has improved a lot since last year. In Finland he was really fast. Next year, he will be fast everywhere.
Q: We will witness an exciting finale on Rally GB; you could claim your sixth Championship title or the winning streak could end. How are you feeling about it all?
SL: It will be very exciting. I don't know how it will go. I'm sure Mikko will be very fast there as he has been everywhere. For sure, it will be nice weather and we will see what happens.
Q: Daniel congratulations, one Championship title is secured, how important is it to win the Manufacturers title?
DE: It's very important; when you start the season, you have two objectives: the Drivers' and Co-drivers' Championships... and the Manufacturers'! Okay, it's fantastic to win here, before the end (of the season). Now it's possible for the full concentration for the team for the title of the driver.
Q: Dani, Sebastien has just thanked you. Have you been frustrated on this rally?
DS: No I am not frustrated. We won the Manufacturers' Championship* -- that's a good day. And I had a very good fight on the first day with Seb and Mikko. It was really nice. I don't know if Sebastien didn't have the pressure for the title whether he would win (this rally) or me, I don't know.
Q: How difficult was it on the second pass through the stages to avoid the dirt and gravel? How cautious were you?
DS: All the time in the middle of the stage, we had the gravel in the notes from last year. All the corners had gravel and when you have it in the notes, it's more easy.
Q: Can you fight to win in Wales?
DS: I don't know. I try to drive for the victory. Why not?
Q: What have been your thoughts of this year's event?
MM: From our point of view it was easy -- we had the same stages as last year. We have a lot of work when you drive flat out. It's not easy, there are a lot of changes and you need to stay concentrated. It's better when you know all of the stages, it gives you confidence.
Q: Mikko you came here wanting to achieve second position, but it's third you take away. Has it been a frustrating weekend?
MH: For sure, I am a little bit disappointed. I was hoping to be a bit closer. For some reason on Friday we couldn't be fast enough and the Citroens ran away again. We accepted that and settled for third. We are still leading; it's going to be a fantastic finish in Wales.
Q: When did you realise that it was not possible to catch the Citroens in front?
MH: It's always been that stage three... MM: Next time we will have two times each through SS3!
Q: There are four tarmac events on the calendar next year, what can you do to improve your performance on that surface?
MH: Well, we have to look at all the places where we lost in this rally. I'm not thinking about next year, we still have one rally to go this year.
Q: You go to the final round of the season in the lead of the Drivers' Championship by one point. You need to finish ahead of Sebastien -- how are you feeling about it?
MH: It's going to be really exciting. For me it's going either way, but it'll be a really close fight. I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: Jarmo, if you were to pick a rally to go up against Sebastien and Daniel on would Rally GB rank highly?
JL: GB will be in my top three for sure. If I could chose it would be Finland, with GB and Norway in there as well.
Q: Olivier, congratulations; Citroen clinches the Manufacturers Championship title* here in Spain; what are your thoughts on the performance of the team in 2009?
OQ: We started the year well with five victories, then we made some mistakes. But now this is our finish. We win as we would like to win, in Spain. I'm really sure in Wales we will be quite quiet. For the team, Wales is not so bad, we will fight.
Q: Olivier earlier this year you confirmed that Citroen has committed to the Championship for a further two years. Is the driver line-up fully confirmed now, will we see both Sordo and Loeb back in the team?
OQ: First of all I would like to say, Daniel Elena and Marc Marti are both with the team and yes, I can confirm Sebastien, Daniel, Dani and Marc will all be with the team next year.
Q: And what about Sebastien Ogier for next year?
OQ: Sebastien Ogier is very young, even if he is 24. He has to learn a little bit more. I hope we can be with the Junior team next year. I will find a solution for him next year.
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA
FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
1st - Hans Weijs
1st - Bjorn Degandt
Q: Hans, congratulations on your first JWRC win. How does it feel?
HW: It feels great. We started the season with some bad luck and to finish in the last rally with us first is actually a good start for next season. I am happy with that.
Q: How much did the pressure ease when Martin Prokop made a mistake?
HW: The most difficult part of the rally was when Martin was gone and then there was the local guy -- and a big time between him and me. The first stage after that was bad from the start, my concentration was down and then I went flat out again; it was the best way (to keep the concentration).
Q: The Dutch Federation has secured a win in the ASN Classification, their investment in you and Kevin (Abbring) has really paid off this year...
HW: Yes. It is necessary, without them we don't drive, it's as simple as that. It's good to win and for us to take the 'Cup'.
Q: The year ended better than it started. What about next season?
HW: For me, I hope to start the Juniors again. I have seen the calendar, there's a lot of asphalt and some gravel. The last rally on gravel is okay, we find the good set-up. Next year, we have a good chance to win.
Q: A great way to end the year...
HW: This is really great. It shows we have the speed. It's great for me.
Q: Bjorn, I notice you have a piece of your tooth missing. How did that happen?
BD: First, we tried to maximise everything. I lost the tooth to save weight! No, seriously, before the first stage we wanted to check the tyre pressures again, but there was only a few minutes left. I tried to take the helmets out on the way to the stage, then Hans braked for a sharp corner and I took the helmet in the teeth. It was difficult for the concentration, but we continued and we won.
Q: Was it hard to read the notes?
BD: Not so bad, it was okay and a really nice rally to do -- only the long stage, after it happened and because there you can make a difference; you need to make a good stage and we were both not concentrated -- they took 20 seconds out of us.
Q: It must have been a nice feeling to cross the line and seal the win?
BD: It was a nice feeling. It's difficult to describe. We worked really hard for this win and that was our reward. We wanted one win this year. It was a difficult time on gravel, we could not confirm his (Weijs') speed. It would seem he's only fast on tarmac -- that's not true, we had some problems with the set-up of the car on gravel. At the start of the year we were quite confident, but Prokop is not easy to beat -- but he made a mistake under our pressure.
Q: How will you celebrate your first win?
BD: Some beers!