WRC

Rally Catalunya: Post-event press conference

RALLY RACC CATALUNYA - COSTA DAURADA - RALLY DE ESPANA 5 October 2008 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 ...

RALLY RACC CATALUNYA - COSTA DAURADA - RALLY DE ESPANA
5 October 2008

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 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, win number 45 and the third consecutive Citroen one-two; you made it look easy out there this weekend and you must be delighted with the result?

SL:: For sure it's really the perfect result for me and the team. We have a 12 point lead on Mikko for the Championship. That's really a better situation with three to go. Everything is perfect and in the Manufacturers' Championship we have the interesting lead. What can I say? This rally was perfect from the start. It was not so easy as some people think. I had to push on the limit to be one second or point one of a second ahead of Dani. It was a really big fight. Then I wanted to increase my lead to be more safe at the end of the rally. Finally, we could do it and it was no problem. Everything went perfectly.

Q: How much of a challenge was it for you?

SL:: I will say the first half of the second day I continued to push really hard. In the second half there was a lot of gravel and it was easy to get a puncture, so I took it a bit more easy - I had the lead I wanted. Today was more a question of driving to split times with no risk.

Q: It seemed that Ford could not match the Citroen on the opening day and you and Dani were in a rally of your own. They did improve but do you have any real concerns about their challenge next weekend?

SL:: I think Ford was good in the second and third day. Maybe they were looking for the setting or rhythm, I think it will be closer next week

Q: Sebastien, you could be Champion in Corsica next week...

SL:: It's good to be in this situation. But like Mikko said, if his engine blows up - it can be there. If not, it can be difficult. I go there as I go to every rally, to try and fight for the victory.

Q: What's the situation with points, do you know the maths Daniel?

DE: First me and Sebastien we win in Corsica and we have 10 points. Mikko finish seventh, two points, and the difference is eight points. Eight points, it's impossible in two rallies left [adding that to the current 12-point lead]. I know Mikko, he wants to fight though.

Q: And your feelings ahead of Corsica?

DE: The Corsica is a very difficult race. Remember in 2003, Sebastien has a spin, leading the rally and we lose 10 minutes. It's not easy with the weather. It's the rain and this can be tough. Remember, it's Duval too. I hope to stay in the same place next week.

Q: Dani, another great result from you, even though you couldn't quite catch Loeb. Are you happy with second? DS: Of course, I am happy. For me and Citroen, it's a very good result.

Q: How much were you pushing on the opening day to try and catch Sebastien? When did you realise you couldn't match his pace?

DS: I was pushing 100% - maximum all of the time. All the time he is faster, faster, faster - really hard. I will try and go faster on the next rally. I will try and learn more.

Q: The fans have been incredible in their support for you, has that helped in any way this weekend?

DS: It was really nice to see a lot of people in the stages. In Corsica, of course there are more French people. I like the rally (Catalunya); it's special for that.

Q: What about Corsica? Are you confident for next week; do you like the roads?

DS: I like the roads in Corsica. They are more twisty, there's more grip and it's more technical. We will see.

Q: How confident are you for next weekend, given this result?

DS: It's good. I have confidence with the new tyres, they worked really well. The feeling of the car is different from last year. I didn't have the confidence in this race. We'll see in Corsica.

Q: Dani's had many second places and great results. But we're still waiting for that first win. Is it possible before the end of the year?

MM: Yes. We are very close. Sebastien should be a great father - he should be with her more. Daniel [Elena] should work in the circus, then we will win...!

Q: Does that mean it's not possible to win with Sebastien here?

MM: He [Loeb] is very hard, professional and pushing hard - he is the best in the world. Dani is 25 and learning fast. This is not the job for this year. The job is to win Manufacturers. We want to finish third in the Drivers' Championship - we are close to doing both things.

Q: Mikko, third position at the end of the rally. It's no secret that team orders have given you that position - how do you feel about that?

MH: Well, for sure, it just shows that Francois did help me as much as he could - he's a real team player. It's only one point more, but if something strange happens then that can be all we need.

Q: The opening day is where most of the time was lost; you just couldn't get on the pace with Citroen. What do you put that down to; car or driver?

MH: I was pushing way too hard on Friday and Saturday. The car understeered too much. When you go way too quick into the corners this is what happens, I was losing too much time because I was too fast in. Once I sorted this out I was able to realise the best way was to go slower in and then it turns in a little easier.

Q: Things improved today, can you carry that on in Corsica?

MH: I was happy with my driving on Saturday and Sunday, For sure, we can't say how much Seb and Daniel are pushing these days. You can't compare completely. I will do my best.

Q: How do you feel about Corsica?

MH: They [Citroen] will be very fast over there. I try not to have any expectations. Like I said, I was excited after the test [before Catalunya], but nothing seemed to work on Friday. I was lost with my driving. I hope I can carry it on in Corsica and fight over there.

Q: How are you feeling about the Drivers' Championship - are you remaining positive?

MH: It's difficult, but if Citroen's engine blows up, anything is possible...

Q: Third and fourth is still a good result for the team overall, but it seems now that the Manufacturers' Championship is slipping away. How is team morale at the moment?

JL: Everybody is in a positive mood. As long as there are rallies and it's mathematically possible we will not give up. If the team are putting their arms in the air, it's pointless being here.

Q: It must have been quite frustrating in the car watching the Citroens?

JL: That's about right: frustrating. It's easy to look back and say we could have fought, but it's not been easy. We are third, thanks to Francois. Not a good weekend for us.

Q: The second Citroen one-two in three events, maximum points, and a lead of 27 points in the Manufacturers' Championship. The team must be feeling good at the moment?

OQ: It's really a good weekend. It's the third one-two after Germany, New Zealand and here. Now Corsica is coming and we're normally quite good there. I have to say thanks to Dani and Marc. They did a good job and kept on the road. And, of course, to Seb and Daniel, they were fantastic. But we look to Ford, in Corsica they will be very competitive in Corsica, I am sure.

Q: What about Duval? He's usually quite quick in Corsica?

OQ: This is correct, but I think Seb and Daniel are also exceptional. Mikko is quite fast. That means four cars will be quite fast. It will be a quite good rally.

FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:
1st - Martin Prokop
1st - Jan Tomanek

Q: Martin, yesterday you didn't think a win was possible, but here you are!

MP: This rally was going a bit difficult. We expected that. We lost 40 seconds after problems with the power steering on the first stage. It was impossible to catch Sebastien [Ogier] then - we had the same time as him. We see it's not possible. We decide to drive and wait what's going on. But we didn't believe it was possible that he would make a mistake. We waited for a puncture or something with the car. It was quite boring then, there was nobody to fight. It was hard to explain, not so good.

Q: How was today?

MP: We were relaxed. It's very easy on Tarmac to play with the times, you can slow and speed up - not like gravel. When the spectators were looking to us today, it was really terrible, like we were driving on the streets. But we didn't want to make the same mistakes. I don't know why he made the mistake.

Q: You lost motivation yesterday, why was that?

MP: The aim was to be first. We won this rally before and finished second after a big fight last year. We just want to fight for the first place. We were disappointed. We were looking for motivation to carry on. The motivation came again and we had one more chance, that's how we live.

Q: We have seen you win in the JWRC and PWRC this year, but you are not in contention for either Championship title, that must be frustrating for you?

MP: Yes. We spoke many times this year. It's a big disappointment for all of the team. We had a lot of technical problems and retired from a lot of podium places. Now we're on the podium and we can fight almost for a podium overall. The other guys came to the finish, but they can't fight. We can show our speed and say we are faster.

Q: Do you have anything sorted for next year?

MP: It's a hard question. We have to decide what we will do, whether we continue in both Championships. Just now we are not ready with this, but for sure we will continue in Production and see in Juniors.

Q: Last time you won Production, your co-driver shaved his head and beard! What's he going to do this time?

MP: We have to find something new for him to do. It's a real party. After this terrible season we are back and fighting and finding some good feeling.

Q: It's a good confidence boost for next week...

MP: We are only missing a little the confidence on asphalt because we didn't have the test. I feel confident in my driving. We will do our best and try to fight Sebastien [Ogier] on his home rally.

Q: You had a fairly big gap behind you going into today's stages. Was it a fairly comfortable drive today?

MP: The rally was the easiest compared with last year. Before there were much bigger cuts and lots of gravel and sand across the road. For me it was a really easy rally. Next week in Corsica it won't be as easy as this rally. I felt very confident. All the time I can expect what's going on.

-credit: fia

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Daniel Elena , Mikko Hirvonen , Marc Marti , Jarmo Lehtinen , Jan Tomanek , Martin Prokop , Olivier Quesnel
Teams Citroën World Rally Team